Luke 11:2 says of Jesus, “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
Who better to learn from than Jesus? In this case, Jesus is telling His disciples how to pray.
There is a lot to explore in the topic of prayer. Presently, in my personal study of prayer, I have 469 Bible passages referenced for study. I have already categorized them as intercessory, group, public, private, answered, types of requests, thanksgiving, denied, at night, in a garden, the house of prayer, long and short prayers, and prayerlessness. I intend to explore the who, what, when, where, and why of prayers in these verses and share them in my posts. This will be a series of studies on prayers in the Bible.
Prayer is the most powerful discipline of the Christian life. It should be one of the most frequently applied disciplines, and yet, seemingly, it is one of the most neglected disciplines. I feel compelled by the Spirit of God to give attention to this topic. But why? Why is the topic of prayer important? Three reasons come to mind. First, prayer is the most powerful discipline. Second, prayer is worthy of our time and attention. Third, prayer is in line with our mission as a church to win souls and make disciples.
1. Prayer is the most powerful discipline of the Christian life
First, prayer is the most powerful discipline of the Christian life. It has the power to move mountains. Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
This does not mean that prayers of selfishness will be granted. Jesus is talking to His followers, and their desire is that His will be done. So then, they pray that His will be done, not theirs.
There are two important points about the power in prayer to keep in mind. First, the power of prayer is not in you or in the words and emotions you put into your prayers. The power is in God. Second, you do not persuade God or command Him to do anything in your prayers. You make a request of Him, and He does as He wills. He determines what will happen, if it will happen, and how, when, and where it will happen.
This second point inevitably raises the question of whether or not it is worth praying since God will do what He wants anyway. There is a devious and insidious flaw in this perspective. It is devious because the thought suggests that God does whatever He wants regardless of our prayers. This is not true. He makes it clear that, if we do not ask, we do not receive. Take salvation for example. If you do not believe Him, you will not be saved. He wants to save you and everyone else. This is His will. But He will not do so unless you believe. After you are saved, He says that you have not because you ask not. This shows that God requires us to ask for things we want. The thought that it does not matter whether or not we pray is devious because it de-motivates us from praying. This results in the loss of tapping into the power that can move mountains.
The perspective is insidious because we do not reap the benefits of prayer when we fail to pray. Making a request to God is not a command. His answer may be no because the request is not in line with His will. However, often you must ask to find out if your request is allowed by God’s will. The only way to discover if your request will be permitted is if you ask. Failure to pray results in loss of what otherwise could have been a fulfilled desire.
The point not to miss about prayers that move mountains is that nothing can prevent God from answering our prayers. He has the ability and the authority to do whatever needs to be done.
Prayer is the most powerful discipline in the Christian life because God is all powerful, and nothing can prevent Him from doing whatever He wants. Prayer is not a powerful discipline because we possess power to make God do anything. Prayer is powerful because God is the One who grants prayers, and there is nothing too difficult for Him to do.
2. It is a privilege to talk to God
Second, prayer deserves our time and attention because it is a privilege to talk to God, the Creator of the universe. It is essential to our spiritual well-being and nurtures our relationship with Him. As our Creator, God has perfect understanding of how we are made and what our needs are. To be able to talk to our Creator is the ultimate privilege. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. From the One who has power over all things in creation, we have access to make any request. And amazingly, He wants to hear from us. He not only grants us permission to approach Him, He invites us to come to Him.
Unfortunately, prayer does not get the time and attention from us that it deserves. Prayer, though it is the most powerful discipline of the Christian life and the greatest privilege of all time, may be the most neglected discipline of the Christian life. If not the most neglected, it nevertheless is too often neglected. For all that prayer can do, and for all the promises God gives regarding prayer, it deserves our full time and attention. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”
3. Prayer is Required to Fulfill Our Mission for God
Third, our mission as a church is to win souls and to make disciples. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” Prayer keeps us in touch with God in order to stay informed and directed to do His work His way.
This is God’s work, not our work. It is His vision and His commission. Those of us who call Him Lord must serve Him and desire to do His bidding. Therefore, prayer is essential for the purpose of understanding and holding onto His vision for us, for making requests to overcome obstacles that would hinder us from accomplishing His mission, and for inspiring us to work with a sense of fulfillment.
The Compelling Reasons to Learn About Prayer
So then, we have three compelling reasons to learn about prayer: 1) prayer is the most powerful discipline of the Christian life; 2) prayer is the privilege God grants us to nurture our relationship with Him and to find fulfillment; and 3) the work we engage in as Christians is His work, so we need to pray to receive direction from Him. Neglecting prayer means you 1) deny yourself access to God’s power, 2) deny yourself privilege to know God and His will for your life, and 3) deny yourself guidance to do God’s work God’s way.
If you want to experience the abundant life Christ spoke of and the best possible life imaginable, prayer is essential. Without it, you simply cannot live the best life God desires for you.