Primary or Last Resort?
Human nature says “last resort. Like the well-known ditty, “there are no atheists in foxholes, we wait to pray until there is nothing else to do. The Bible gives us a wholly other philosophy as the Living Word, Jesus does, “pray continually, pray unceasingly, pray always! Praying some words toward heaven, off into space, seems so fruitless when the house is burning down. We need to call the firemen, save the children, get irreplaceables out of the house, whatever. The privilege in prayer is that you do not need to stop every other movement and action to do it. Prayer can pour out to God even when you are running or in a harried hurry. If it doesn’t it is simply not your habit, not your world-view; it is not your faith.
It is very apparent to the readers of God’s Word that prayer is akin to breathing. Consistent, continual prayer is obedient and dependent conversation with One you love and serve, because He is always there and always hears, and the world really is always burning down around you. There is even in the midst of the calm and peace of a morning sunrise the actual truth of fierce spiritual warfare never abating until Christ returns. There is a place and time for joyful praise to the One who created the sunrise, just as there is often need for a cry for help to the One who can provide help truer and better than anyone else. If you don’t believe it, you will not do it. It becomes last resort. Some say, when all else fails, pray. It ought to be, pray always and then do, and don’t stop praying as you do.
Prayer is a bridge that links all three elements of life together: you, the individual, family, and community. Prayer is an activity of individuals, of families, and of communities. The most frequent is the prayer of individuals; we have more time alone than you can imagine. The family that prays together stays together. It’s true! Married couples should pray with one another a minimum of once a day. The whole family should pray together a minimum of once a day. The community of faith should meet for the purpose of praying together as often as they get together. If prayer is not a prominent part of every worship service it isn’t worship! Prayer is boring only if the congregation must be entertained and has never been taught to pray as a community. When I attended church in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 70’s when I was there for post-graduate studies, the prayer of the pastor was the most powerful time of the service. I anticipated it with hunger every Sunday. The prayer meeting attended by lots of people and young people every Saturday night was vibrant and powerful in the life of the community. This is not the experience of much of the American church today, and it shows.
We have not because we ask not, the Word tells us. Prayer comes in all sizes, shapes, and passions. It is praise; it is thanksgiving; it is petition; it is confession; it is inquiry; it is planning; it is organizing; it is priorities. Hebrews tells us that Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears to His Father, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7) Prayer is not a ho-hum affair. You as a believer have the awesome privilege of going to the throne room of God ANYTIME you want. This is the most amazing, most powerful, most magnificent place and Person to whom you can go. And you can go there anytime you want? Do not get ho-hum about that!
Prayer must be a predominant part of your life if you are in the faith because Jesus and His Word says it. We talk to ourselves constantly when we are awake. The mind is always working. Make the Lord, make your God a part of the constant conversation with yourself. And then it will become true of you as it was of one of the greatest ever people of faith, “I must decrease, but He must increase. There is no greater purpose in anyone’s life.
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