Prayer gets a bad rap among some of God’s kids who think it is only for the spiritual elite.
Some practice it on an “emergency only basis. Others “seem” to be close to ” super saints” who use such erudite, spiritual language that you wonder what planet they have been on the last ten years!
Between those two very extreme caricatures are those who honestly struggle to adopt a lifestyle that carries with it the aroma of prayer. These are those people, like you and I, who have a God-given passion in their hearts to bring every matter in their lives to the Lord’s attention through prayer. But, the question is, how can we adopt the lifestyle where prayer is the predominant theme of our lives? With your permission, I would like to take you on a journey through the pages of the Bible to witness those people from the past who came to grips with prayer’s importance, some failed and some passed with flying colours.
1. God created us to be in a constant love relationship with him.
Before we can adopt the lifestyle of prayer we need to understand that God is much more interested and even passionate about us than we could ever be toward us.
Adam and Eve
It is absolutely amazing to read the first few chapters of Genesis and witness God’s desire to be in communion with us! He sought to be with our first parents. You know the story in Genesis 3. God comes “in the cool of the day” to be with us. But something dramatically changes the story. Those that he created decided that it was better to use their time and direct their attention away from God and towards other interests! Notice that it was them who hid themselves from the Lord! How dumb can you get!
We turn to the last book of the Bible, Revelation, and we again see God’s desire to be with us. Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Before we can develop and grow a life of prayer, we need to know that God wants to be with us MORE than we want to be with him. Let that wonderful thought sink in! It will change the way you approach prayer.
2. We must develop a lifestyle of constant communication and fellowship with God
As we live in constant fellowship with God, he places us in key situations in which we can be difference makers for him. We come upon these opportunities because we practice being in his presence and are ready to respond at the moment that we are aware of them. Nehemiah was a man who practiced the presence of God to such an extent that he was ready to respond when the opportunity came his way.
Nehemiah 1 describes his response to the news he heard that his homeland was in flames! He was absolutely devasted. There was only one place, I should say person that he could turn to! How do you respond when you receive bad news?
Nehemiah 2:1-4 is the key moment in his life. He would never pray anything more important. It wasn’t long, he wasn’t kneeling, he didn’t even have time to fast. Underline verse 4 in your Bible, “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” That’s it! There was no time to send a text the pastor, no time to post on Facebook, the moment of opportunity was right in front of him, and he prayed to God. We know by that statement that this was a man who constantly practiced the presence of God in his life.
That type of prayer can only happen for us when we have develop a life of constant communication and fellowship with God! For that to be our experience, we need to be in the Word, and we need to allow God room to work in our life in unexpected ways even in moments of great adversity.
3. We must develop a life of constant communion with God that is forged through suffering.
Daniel lived in constant communion with God even in the midst of adversity. The great tests of faith come to those who are willing to pay the price in the even in the public arena. Most Bible teachers say that he was about 80 years old at this time! He is no spring chicken! Look at Daniel 6:10, “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, AS HE HAD DONE PREVIOUSLY.”
Listen, my friends, you and I should be in such constant communion with God that when trouble comes, we can direct our attention to God like we always have done! If we have developed a lifestyle of prayer, this too can be our experience!
4. We must develop a life of constant communication with the Lord that is an extension of our worship of him.
In Matthew’s gospel (chapter 5, verses 5-13), this prayer model (known popularly as “the Lord’s Prayer) was what differentiated his followers from those who prayed in a cold, ritualistic, heartless manner. The one who is in constant communication, by contrast, with his Lord knows the discipline of making time to worship God through prayer. He/She knows that in order to be effective servants of God, we must park our lives long enough to re-orient our hearts in the direction of heaven.
At the end of the day the person who is in constant communication with the Lord knows that he hears you when your motivation is correct, and you recognize your greatest need is for him.
There is a constant need in our lives to re-calibrate our lives based on a life of prayer. Not prayer for prayer’s sake but prayer for the sake of knowing God better, serving him with greater faithfulness and a correct motivation. Keep talking to him, keep approaching him on his terms. If you do, he will bless you with such a sense of peace that passes all understanding that you just won’t believe its true!
God bless you as you grow in this important matter.
Pastor Bill Finch