It should be the goal of every believer to engage. God did not save us to just sit on the sidelines. Our level of engagement is directly connected to our love for Jesus. The more we love Jesus, the more spiritually engaged we will be. We will never experience true revival without spiritual engagement. We will never experience God’s best for us without spiritual engagement. Such spiritual engagement begins with prayer. We must be engaged in prayer.
What exactly is prayer? There have been many definitions of prayer given. “A classic definition of Christian prayer is “an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies” (Westminster Shorter Catechism).” The Lexham Theological Wordbook says, “Prayer is intentional communication with God and can be spoken or written. It is often petitionary in nature, though it may take many other forms, as well. Both the OT and the NT assume that God hears and responds to the prayers of his people.” Prayer is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the believer, yet, it is rarely used.
The Work of Prayer
We need to understand that prayer is a spiritual discipline and it takes work. Romans 15:30 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.” The Message puts it this way, “I have one request, dear friends: Pray for me. Pray strenuously with and for me.” The Apostles understood the work of prayer when they appointed the first deacons so that they could give themselves to the Word and to prayer. Prayer takes discipline. It should never be taken lightly. Prayer must be intentional. Jesus Himself was in the habit of getting up early in the morning and going to a secluded place to pray. There is a common law that we all understand: the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it. The more a student studies, the greater fruit from their education they will see. The more an athlete trains, the greater successes he or she will enjoy. The more you tell others about Jesus, the more people you will see saved. The more you pray, the more prayers you will see answered and the closer you will be to God. As a Christ follower, will you do the hard work of prayer? Would you commit, for example, to pray for one hour every day? Will you have a time of concentrated, intentional, passionate prayer every day? If you develop such a habit, you will soon see God’s hand in your life. You will soon experience the blessing of a closeness with God that you have never experienced before. You will soon see prayers being answered on a regular basis. If, you will do the work of prayer.
The Mechanics of Prayer
There is no right or wrong way to pray. But, Jesus does give us a few examples as to how we should pray. In Mathew 6:5 Jesus said, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” There is a place for public prayer, however, public prayer should never be a substitute for personal private prayer. When is the last time you spent time alone with God? Being alone with God in prayer should be part of the daily routine of every believer. Do not be proud in your praying. Humble yourself before God and go to your quiet place and pray.
Jesus goes on in Matthew 6:9-13 to give us an example of how we should pray. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Notice the pattern of Jesus’ prayer. He begins with praise to God. When we pray, we should always begin by simply praising God for who He is. After we spend some quality time praising and thanking Him, we then must acknowledge His will. We are, in a sense, asking God to bring Heaven to earth. We acknowledge that He is sovereign and that we trust Him as we bring our requests to Him. As our hearts are aligned to the will of God, we then have the freedom to bring our petitions to Him. As we plead for His intervention in our lives, we must acknowledge and confess our sins and seek His forgiveness. Our prayer should also include a request for His protection. Praying that we will be protected from the evil one and from the temptation of sin. Finally, we should conclude our prayer with another word of praise. Such a prayer can be lengthy, yet, enjoyable. There is joy in coming into God’s presence and worshipping Him. It is also a joyful thing to bring all of our concerns and petitions before His throne, knowing that He has our best in mind and that His will is always for our good and for His glory. I believe that there are many blessings and answered prayers stored up for us in Heaven. If we can just learn to pray with the right heart and in the right manner, we can experience all of God’s best for us.
The Possibilities of Prayer
Imagine what God would do if all of us would make a personal commitment to real concentrated prayer for at least one hour every day! I would dare say, the Heavens would open and revival would sweep across the world. When Mary was told that the impossible would happen to her, the angel said to her, “with God, nothing shall be impossible.” One of the most discouraging comments often made in the church is: ‘we can’t.’ Now, I understand that such a statement is true in regard to the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ. However, the intention of such a statement is rarely spiritual. The reality is, though we would never admit it, is not that we can’t but that we won’t. If truth be told, such an attitude reveals an unwillingness to change and accept God’s plan. We say we will do whatever God wants us to do. But, when there is an open door, we close it. When there is an opportunity, we ignore it. Then we are left scratching our heads and wonder why the church doesn’t grow. I have seen time and time again when decisions were made in the church that led us to the wilderness instead of the promised land and we miss out on God’s best. Oh, my friend, but if we would pray! Prayer moves the hand of God. Prayer makes possible what man deems as impossible. There are so many things that we miss out on because we do not pray. Oh, that we would pray! If we would do the work of knee-breaking, sweat wrenching, tear flowing prayer; nothing is impossible. That hard heart can be broken. That lost soul can be saved. That marriage can be restored. That job offer would come. Sunday School classes would be filled. The baptismal waters would be stirred. The pews would be filled to overflowing. Financial needs will be meet. If we would just pray! The reason we never experience the impossible is because we don’t want the impossible. We are comfortable in our religion and in our sinful habits. We are satisfied with where we are, and we are scared of change. But, if we would pray! The Heavens would open, and the glory of God would fill our hearts. The impossible becomes possible when we pray!
What about you? Will you pray? Or, are you too comfortable? Could it be that we do not engage in fervent daily prayer, because we are afraid that God might just do something that would disrupt our little lives? There is power in prayer. When God’s people pray, the impossible becomes possible. Will you do it? Will you commit to praying at least one hour every day? Will you engage in the hard work of prayer and accept whatever God does as a result?