“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2 NLT
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther
I don’t know about you but without breathing, it’s kind of hard to stay alive. I think what Martin is saying is that if you’re not praying, you’re basically a dead Christian. Ouch.
Prayer is absolutely essential to our walk and development as Christians, but it’s also so crucial to our daily lives. It is that connection we have to God. You can read His Word all you want – go for it! – but prayer is communication. Prayer is healthy.
I recall during my first course of American Sign Language, my professor, who is hearing, had only two days where she spoke in class. One of those was the importance of language. There was a study done a long time ago by a German king, Frederick II, who wanted to discover what the original language of man was; the language in which Adam and Eve spoke. His method was to have a room of infants with nurses who cared for them, but never spoke to them, hoping that the infants would grow to become speaking toddlers in what he hoped was man’s original native tongue. So, what happened? The infants died. They had no connection. Language is crucial to us as humans but also to our very life.
Prayer is crucial to our spiritual life.
“You must go forward on your knees.” Hudson Taylor
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:17 NIV
To be on your knees is a sign of surrender. When we are praying to God, that’s something we are doing – we are surrendering our pain, our worries, our fear, our anxiety, our own selves to the God who is already in authority of it all, but it’s a sign to us that we are free. God already knows our hearts and minds, what we are experiencing, but He wants to hear us cry out to Him. When we pray, we release all those things from our grasp, remove those weights from our shoulders, and find freedom in surrendering it to Him.
“Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total.” Alistair Begg, Made For His Pleasure
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” James 5:13 ESV
“Never stop praying.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 ESV
Prayer isn’t just for your quiet time in the morning or a ritual before meals and sleep. It is to be a constant conversation with God daily. Prayer is not just asking God for things, but praising Him for the blessings He’s given us. And there is much to praise Him for! Prayer is one of several forms of worship.
But it isn’t to be a spectacle, to make you appear more ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’ than others.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6 NLT
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”” Luke 18:10-14 ESV
Prayer isn’t a showcase of how ‘holy’ you think you are, how ‘in tune’ with God you think you appear, but a private time in which you share your heart but also your gratitude. It is an intimate time with your Creator who is in-control of everything, despite your feeling that it’s all falling apart.
“When we have a conversation with God, we cannot help but be changed.” Bianca Olthoff
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10 NIV
Have you ever cried out to God in such heartache and agony you appeared uncontrollable? I know I have. I have wept bitterly, and I mean completely losing it. Someone else understands that – Hannah. Here she was, barren, and the other wife (back then it was appropriate, Old Testament style, ok?) Peninnah was fertile. But Peninnah was a classic mean girl, and would throw her fortune in Hannah’s face. So Hannah wept, but she also prayed. She prayed hard. She was so consumed in her prayer that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. She poured her whole heart out to God.
“Then she went her way and … her face was no longer downcast.” 1 Samuel 1:18 NIV
In Hannah’s case, the LORD heard her cries and for her faith, He blessed her with a child. Hannah prayed in her helplessness, in her desperate need, for a supernatural miracle. And through her praying, her countenance changed. She changed, even before she saw her prayer be answered.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” CS Lewis
Prayer is a daily, needed necessity that often times gets overlooked. Sometimes people feel like they don’t know where to start or how it should look. In Matthew 6, Christ gives us the example of what it looks like: acknowledging God, praise/gratitude, repentance, deliverance. The best way to start is to talk, to share your heart, tell Him your concerns and frustrations, share your joys, and praise Him for who He is. It really isn’t a complicated thing. We’ve just turned it into that. But it’s really quite simple. There are no regulations, no grand gestures, just come to Him as you are.