It really is truly astonishing, that right at our fingertips (or tongue-tips to be more precise) is a vehicle for entering into the throne-room of the Creator of the universe! A vehicle that is available to us twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year. If we had such a privilege to be able to engage the ear of the queen of England or the president of either the US or the European Union or perhaps even the pope, with as much freedom, we would be the envy of the world, and people from all corners of the globe would be clamouring (lol… I spelt this incorrectly at first spelling it clammering; the spell check then gave me three alternatives… clambering, hammering, clamouring… all quite appropriate) at our door asking for favours. Yet we, even more astonishingly, avail ourselves of this privilege so little!
Ellen White had the following to say regarding this reluctance on our part to engage in prayer…
Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.
Prayer is not always easy to understand. Why ask God for something He already knows about? Will God not do anything for us except we ask Him first? Can our prayers really change what God intends to do; can it change His mind? Whether we understand what prayer is or not, one thing is certain; without it, as Christians, we are doomed to failure. Prayer is the lifeblood of the soul. I have found throughout my Christian walk, that those times when I needed prayer most, came after periods where I prayed least. I have found that the old adage, that we don’t know what we are missing until its gone, is very relevant at times like these.
God, whose name the Lord informed Moses is merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (Exodus 34:5,6) demonstrates His character by being precisely what His name above depicts. At those times when I had neglected to pray as often and as constantly as I ought, and found myself in the inevitable spot of bother as a result, and upon realising my predicament and returning to my knees, am so grateful that I did not hear… “Ha! Serve yourself right! You neglect Me and you get yourself into trouble every time. How many times do I have to remind you! You are weak, stupid, ignorant, self-willed, arrogant, proud, independently minded, and quite frankly, too much trouble to bother with any more. Sort out your own problems. I’m done with you.!!!” On the contrary, what I hear is “Oh my precious son, welcome back! Now, take of My strength, let My grace and power sustain you, trust Me and all things shall work together for your good.” ( Psalm 145:18,19; Luke 15:18-24; Psalm 29:11; Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 42:16; 65:24; Romans 8:28.)
Prayer however isn’t only a cry for help. It is really the only vehicle we have for sustaining our relationship with God, and like any inter-human relationship, to get to know Him we must spend time with Him. If communication is so crucial in our relationships with other people, how can it be less so with God? And if Jesus, the spotless Son of God, Who knew no sin,was without fault, and walked in perfect harmony with the will of His Father throughout His life needed to pray so often as depicted so clearly throughout the gospels, (see Luke 3:21,22; 6:12,13; 9:28,29; Hebrews 5:7; Matt. 14:23.) how much more do we need to? So the big question remains, and is one I need repeatedly to ask myself. “Why do we pray so little?!” Frankly, I think the answer, for me anyway, is somewhat closely related to something I wrote above. I am weak, stupid, ignorant, self-willed, arrogant, proud, and all too independently minded. (Now I am allowed to say that, so there is no need for everyone to agree with me okay!) Truly though, it comes down to a matter of choice. How well do we really want to know our Creator? How close do we want to be to Him?
I don’t believe however that I am being dishonest when I say that of late, that is the last three or four months, my prayer life has vastly improved. I have found more consistency, and have found a level of great peace and joy as a result. That’s not to say that there weren’t times in the past when I experienced such peace, nor felt such joy. But of late it is constant, and I am greatly reluctant to allow this to slip, on the contrary, I am convinced there is no limit to the closeness and intimacy we can have with our Lord.
Bottom line, prayer is a serious business. We are called to pray. Why? Why is it that the Bible tells us:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; (2 Corinthians 10:4)
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Eph 6:12-18)
What does that all mean? It means there is a war on. I have seen much evil. I have seen demons, and I have seen angels. I have seen a possessed young woman (now deceased) face to face speaking to me vehemently in an ancient language with which I am familiar but in a dialect known only to the priestly class. She was not of that class. She was my best friend’s wife. And at that time she had such an expression of hatred for me I have never seen elsewhere since, thank God. She was delivered of that demon, praise God. The point being we are at war. There is a major war going on; a war entailing our entire planet with ramifications throughout all the universe. A war between Christ and Satan, and we are on the frontline. Not only are we on the frontline, we are also the prize. If we aren’t being attacked, maligned, abused, persecuted, talked about, gossiped over, sworn at, cursed, at least some of the time if not all at once constantly, then we are doing something wrong. Satan hates Jesus with a vengeance, with a passion that will never lessen until the day he is destroyed. He however cannot touch Christ personally, but he can certainly touch Him through His followers. That’s you and me. If Satan doesn’t see you as his primary target, if you are no threat to him, then you need to find out why and do something about it. We are called to fight, called to be warriors for Christ. If your Christian walk is a walk in the park with no hassle, no troubles, no obstacles to climb over, no mountains to remove, no rivers to cross, then your on the wrong path.
There is a major world war on folks, a war that will have repercussions that will last for all eternity, a war that will result in more casualties than all other wars put together, and if you cannot see it in your own life or in the lives of your loved ones, your AWOL. Time to fast and pray that God will open your eyes and show you where the enemy is operating. You are called to fight. You will be surprised at how close the battle is. Prayer is your lifeline. It is your sole connection to the source of life and to your sustaining power. It is through prayer that we ensure our remaining connected to the vine. There is great power in prayer. There are conditions however to experiencing the answers we desire. Ellen White puts it like this:
There are certain conditions upon which we may expect that God will hear and answer our prayers. One of the first of these is that we feel our need of help from Him. He has promised, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” Isaiah 44:3. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God, may be sure that they will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or God’s blessing cannot be received. Our great need is itself an argument and pleads most eloquently in our behalf. But the Lord is to be sought unto to do these things for us. He says, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” And “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Matthew 7:7; Romans 8:32 If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance. Another element of prevailing prayer is faith. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. Jesus said to His disciples, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24. Do we take Him at His word? (Steps to Christ p95)
In her book Gospel Workers, she writes;
Family prayer and public prayer have their place; but it is secret communion with God that sustains the soul-life. It was in the mount with God that Moses beheld the pattern of that wonderful building which was to be the abiding-place of His glory. It is in the mount with God—the secret place of communion—that we are to contemplate His glorious ideal for humanity. Thus we shall be enabled so to fashion our character-building that to us may be fulfilled the promise, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” [2 Corinthians 6:16.] While engaged in our daily work, we should lift the soul to heaven in prayer. These silent petitions rise like incense before the throne of grace; and the enemy is baffled. The Christian whose heart is thus stayed upon God cannot be overcome. No evil arts can destroy his peace. All the promises of God’s word, all the power of divine grace, all the resources of Jehovah, are pledged to secure his deliverance. It was thus that Enoch walked with God. And God was with him, a present help in every time of need. Christ’s ministers must watch unto prayer. They may come with boldness to the throne of grace, lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting. In faith they may supplicate the Father in heaven for wisdom and grace, that they may know how to work, how to deal with minds. Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience. Neglect the exercise of prayer, or engage in prayer spasmodically, now and then, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God. The spiritual faculties lose their vitality, the religious experience lacks health and vigor.
In summary, when all is said and done, there remains much we do not grasp about prayer. But one thing is certain, and I say this from personal experience. Those who do pray know for sure that prayer changes your life, and changes it for the better.
© 2012 Brendan James, Repairing the Breech