Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Stand therefore,...Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:14, 18
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
1 Thessalonians 1:2
Brethren, pray for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:25
The command, exhortation, and request to pray is repeated often in the Bible. Often, we hear sermons about the importance and necessity of prayer. Frequently, we read of the far-reaching effects of prayer. Almost daily, we are flooded with requests to pray for missionaries, pastors, ministries, outreaches, activities, families, needs, governments, difficult situations, revival, blessing, help, and the list goes on. Always and on every side we are bombarded by the need for prayer.
But why? What is it about prayer that is so important? Why do people want it so much? Why is prayer in such high demand? What, exactly, does it accomplish? We've all heard the phrase, "Prayer changes things." But how?
I don't know if I can answer those questions fully. In fact, I don't think I know very much about prayer at all, really. Oh, I know that prayer is talking with God. I know what words to say and phrases to use when I pray. But to really, truly give myself to prayer is something that I confess is foreign to me.
We sing about the "sweet hour of prayer", yet when was the last time you spent a full hour in prayer? I'm not so sure that I've ever prayed that long. My longest "prayers" are when I start daydreaming or fall asleep on my knees. I would doubt whether I am physically capable of praying for one full hour.
Neither do I know what it means to "agonize in prayer" over something or someone. I must say, to my shame, that I have never actually experienced that. True, I have prayed somewhat more earnestly than usual for some things or some people, but nothing that you could justifyably call "agonizing".
Another song we sing says that "I love to steal a while away" to pray. This too, is something that I have not experienced very often. Yes, I have my normal "scheduled" prayer and devotional time. But I have never actually taken time out of my duties especially to pray.
Still less often have I fasted and prayed. Praying is hard enough on its own, without depriving myself of the physical necessity of food.
How then, can I really know what prayer is all about, if I have never really prayed? And I mean prayed.
I've been challenged lately about my lack of experience in the area of prayer. I need not only more quantity time praying, but more quality time. It is extremely easy to get sidetracked and distracted while praying. And I think there's a reason for that. Satan knows that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) He will do everything and anything he can to keep God's people from praying.
This fact was brought home to me more fully while reading Frank Perreti's book, This Present Darkness. The book is written like a novel, with angels and demons as primary characters, and the intense spiritual battle between them being acted out in part by their human counterparts in the physical realm. The demons far outrank the angels in strength as well as in numbers, and the angels are forced to assume a "watching and waiting" policy until they can gather enough "prayer cover" to give them sufficient strength to go on the offensive. The idea behind it is that the strength and effectiveness of the angels in spiritual warfare rests upon the strength and sincerity of the prayers of the saints. Only when the "Remnant" is aroused and start praying in earnest can the angels effectively ward off the attacks of the demons and foil their plan.
While this book is only fiction and is highly imaginative, it does bring out a very strong point--if we are to stand our ground, much less go on the offensive, we need to be praying. Not five- or ten-minute "Lord bless so-and-so" prayers, but real earnest, agonizing, "wrestling with God" type of prayers. "Sweet hour of prayer" needs to take on a literal meaning for us. It has been noted that no great revival has ever occurred in the absence of prayer. We cannot expect one to occur now.
If we are really serious about wanting a revival, we need to get really serious about praying. And so, I challenge you, as well as myself--Let's pray!
Saturday, January 21, 2006
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