There are more than 80,000 books on Amazon.com concerning prayer. Needless to say it is an important topic to many people in our world today. Moreover the Bible itself mentions prayer some 500 times which gives us an indication that it is vitally important to God and His followers.
But is 3.5 minutes a day enough to impact eternity? That’s what the average Christian spends per day in serious prayer. Even at the average of 7 minutes for clergy, it is no wonder that our churches and lives are ineffective! I have to admit that prayer can be difficult at times to do. However, we must look at prayer as an essential to our daily walk and eternal influence on people!
We must begin to reframe what prayer is and what prayer is about. The focus of much prayer today is requests. Prayer has been reduced to people bringing their load to God and dumping it on him and then expecting God to fix all their problems and give them all their desires. When God fails to do so, he is regulated to as a snob, or simply uncaring God. Perhaps for some, they decide he doesn’t exist at all at this point. We must begin to recognize that prayer is meant to be more than this.
In prayer we must be preoccupied with God Himself, not our problems and requests. For many, prayer is tedious and mundane because it’s about a list to navigate or a mantra to quote. But prayer is meant to be a dynamic communion with our God who is not only more than able to meet our needs but who desires to and deserves our full attention.
Is it maybe true that we do not like prayer so much because it forces us to focus on someone other than ourselves? God wants to be our focus and prayer is the way for this to happen. We spend little amounts of time in prayer because we know that prayer pulls our focus toward God and away from ourselves. Even in our requests for “others” we are not often God-centered, making our desires for people’s healing and change the paramount petition instead of God’s will being done.
Our preoccupation in prayer needs to be God and not our desires, wants or needs. Sure God and Jesus invite us to bring all of these things in prayer yet most of us spend almost no time in “worship” of God.
Prayer is an act of worship and it is necessary for those of us who are disciples to practice this form of worship on a continual basis. In fact, the scripture admonishes us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)! A Christian who claims to worship God and yet spends little time in prayer is most certainly weak and anemic spiritually. Prayer is the key to a God-centered and Jesus-focused life. Here are three key reasons why prayer must be a bigger part of our lives.
There are only 2 ways for a person to connect to God: Prayer and Scripture. God’s Spirit connects with us and we connect with Him through prayer and reading of scripture. Learning to be in a state of prayer constantly will keep us connected to God and aware of His presence and working in and around us.
God desires for us to simply be with Him and for Him to be with us. This happens through prayer. when we take time to sit in His presence, unhurried, un-rushed and focused not only do we get a clearer picture of who God is but we become all the more clear of our need for and utter dependence on Him.
If we are to know God, His power and have His presence evidenced in our lives, we must spend time in prayer and communion with the Father. There is no other way.
Prayer gives us the opportunity to consult and confer with God on all issues. When we pray we are tapping into a resource our minds can’t even fathom. Prayer can not only keep us from making bonehead decisions but enlighten us on areas we need to adjust and work on ourselves. Prayer is not just about manipulating God and getting what we want. It’s about spending time in His presence and becoming more like Him. They say you become like what you behold. I wonder if more us are not godly because we simply do not behold the face of God daily?
For a disciple, the discipline of prayer cannot be ignored by principle nor practice. However, as a principle and practice it is not meant to be a pious ceremony either. For all disciples of Jesus and lovers of God, it is meant to be a place of worship that happens deep within our spirits and daily within our lives. The power of prayer is not found in amount of time we spend but in the one we behold. Learning to be preoccupied with God as He is for who He is will most certainly change our prayer lives and it will ultimately change us too. That is what prayer truly is: preoccupation with God and his plan. When we pray like this we are being just like Jesus!