So there has been something on my mind now for a while, going back to mid-October and some things that I have noticed, things less then ideal especially when you consider the calling we have been set apart for.
Our calling is to be distinct witnesses in a dark and troubled world. To provide absolute truth to those searching for answers. To be able to interact with them world at large in a sensible way, to make sense in an academic or philosophical world. The first aspect is to be trained, to study and become knowledgeable in a field and to actually know what it is that we are talking about. The second aspect of being prepared is to be steeped in the Word of God and in connection, very close connection, to be spending time in prayer.
Part of the reason this has been bothering me, is an observation that was voiced by one of ‘my’ guys at the Day of Prayer. We were working with the audio system for them, and he turns to be about half way through the whole morning and asks me where all the guys were. Out of the whole crowd it seemed like it was maybe 25% male. And it bothered me . . . I remember thinking that this was a very sad reflection on the state of our general leadership as men. Here it is a day that was set aside to devote to prayer together, and all the guys were off doing who-knows-what.
It made me start thinking.
How is it that we expect to impact the world while neglecting the most important connection we have to the only One who can empower any changes? And not only then are our expectations off base, but WE end up totally out of touch with our Father, who is the only One who can offer any help or guidance through all the paths of life. Then somehow we manage to blame God for the problems we have, which in reality are our own fault for not asking what He has planned. Its a vicious cycle, and I dare not imply that I have broken it, because I haven’t.
But that kinda brings us around to prayer, what is prayer? why should we pray? does it really work? how do we pray?
So what is prayer? From what I understand, it is our communication back to God in response to what He has revealed in Scripture. It is a facet on the diamond of worship, much like music, teaching, fellowship, repentance, evangelism, etc… are all aspects of worship in our lives. Why do we pray then? In light of its worshipful nature we have no choice but to respond. How many times have you been in such awe of the galaxies late at night that you could not help but burst out in praise of the Creator? It is a natural response to such amazing revelation, and prayer falls into the same type of category for me. I see the great work that has been done for me, and in response to salvation or sanctification or any other aspect of God’s work in my life, I have no recourse but to praise Him through prayer.
Does prayer work? I guess that depends on how one thinks prayer works. If you think of it as if you were pushing buttons on some sort of cosmic vending machine, it doesn’t work. God does not bend His will to that of man, and just to say the ‘right’ things will not cause Him to acquiesce to your desires. On the other hand, pouring out your heart to the One who created it and sharing your desires with Him, comparing those desires to scripture, which we know to be the revelation that He gave us concerning Himself, will conform your heart to His and your desires become the same as His. In that sense it works. How we pray has been hinted at already. We pray personally in conversation to our Creator, Provider, and Saviour. One can pray out loud, or quietly in ones own heart. You can pray alone, or with a group of fellow Christians. You must pray with a heart of humility, a heart of worship and praise. There are of course petitionary prayers, but I feel fairly confident that in todays world most people will have a firm grasp on that.
An aspect of prayer here that has really become highlighted recently though for me is that so often we will maintain a private prayer life, nearly totally outside of the interaction of the church, while somehow requiring every other facet of worship to be corporate in nature. I think we would all be concerned for someone who claims to not need the church to maintain his spiritual health, for the lack of fellowship, encouragement, etc… but at the same point we are not noticing how practically the church is falling on its face when it comes to prayer.
When you look back to the apostles, it is important that they saw prayer as such an important part of their ministry that it was given as much priority as the study of the Word (Acts 6:4). There is so much riding on their shoulders that the only thing they can do is search for the heart of God and His will through the Scriptures and Prayer. Are we all that much more enlightened that we can shun prayer? Do you know the will of God for your life better then He does? How can you discern right from wrong without the input of the Holy Spirit?
How do you view prayer? How do you pray? How do we change except through prayer?
I trust that you all are challenged and encouraged to pray.