“The early Church didn’t have a prayer meeting; the early Church was the prayer meeting. In fact, in the early Church every Christian was a prayer-meeting Christian.” – Armin Gesswein
Prayer is not a spiritual gift, it is a spiritual given. It’s not a spiritual gift like teaching or prophecy or the other spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes selectively. It is not something just for the ‘prayer warriors’ to do. It is something for every Christian. Each of us has been given the privilege through Jesus Christ to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Jesus taught all his disciples to pray, and He showed them how to do it. He tells us to approach God like a child would to a loving father, to ask expectantly and to trust that our Father knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
So why do we tend to struggle so much with prayer? Prayer is like exercise. We know it is a good thing to do. We talk a lot about its benefits. But how many actually do it regularly?
Maybe it’s because we just want to ‘get things done’. We say we should do more than ‘just pray’. But in the words of John Bunyan, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
Prayer is God’s ordained way of getting things done. As John Piper marvels – “Prayer remains one of the great and glorious mysteries of the universe – that the all-knowing, all-wise, all-sovereign God should ordain to run his world in response to our prayers is mind-boggling. But that is the uniform witness of Scripture. God hears and answers the prayers of His people. O do not neglect this amazing way of influencing nations and movements and institutions and churches and people’s hearts, especially your own.”
As we pray, we partner with God, and with God’s people. It is interesting how the Apostle Paul puts it – “On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11)
Our participation in prayer is therefore an essential part of God’s plan. It draws us closer to God and to His will, and it draws us closer to one another. “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.” – Charles Finney
Will you join your heart with God’s people in God’s work? How about joining the prayer corner on Sunday mornings, or on a larger scale, the Global Day of Prayer this Sunday evening? How about devoting time to pray regularly with your family, with your friends, with your small group?
Like exercise, we know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Author Philip Yancey puts it candidly – “Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.”
By Jan Choo, Assistant Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 31 May & 1 June 2014)