In Part 1, we examined how prayer came into being, tracing it's origins back to when the generation of Seth began to all upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25-26) We considered what would have been the main focus of their prayers and highlighted two topical issues which were, repentance from sin and God fulfilling His promise to crush satan's head and restoring man to his original state. Part 1 ended with the first reason why prayer is important, which is, prayer re-aligns our hearts to the one who created us.
Secondly, Prayer is important because it is powerful. In the second part of James 5:16, we read, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. Let’s break this phrase down, shall we? The prayer has to be made by a person, not an animal or any other created being. A Person - that is you and I. Then the person has to be righteous. “But Steve, I don’t consider myself righteous, does that mean I can’t pray?” The answer is simple, as Christians, we don’t rely on our own righteousness but we have been made righteous by Christ’s death on the cross” You don’t have to be perfect to pray but you can pray that you be made perfect in Christ. Something can be powerful and yet not effective. I am not very good with DIY. A couple of times, I’ve gone to B&Q to buy items I need to fix things in the house. Let’s just say, I ended up having to call in someone to fix my mess. One thing I know for sure is that although hammer is a powerful device, but cannot use it to screw a mirror to the wall.
Thirdly, Prayer is important because it helps us to focus on God’s promises. One of the leaders in my Church recently spoke on the topic, "Don't interfere whilst you wait" and she said something profound, "The art of waiting is an essential part of our prayer life. We persist and continue in prayer because we are reminded of the promises that God fulfilled in our lives in times past" When she said that, I reflected on the promises that God made to me especially through dreams and everyone of those dreams happened exactly as I saw them. Anytime I feel like something I've prayed for is taking too long, I remember that God has been faithful in the past and He never changes and that reminder fuels my faith once again to believe that He will come through for me.
Prayer is important because Jesus told us to pray. In Luke 18, Jesus told the disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He told them about a judge who neither feared God nor cared for people. This judge was accosted by a widow each time, asking that he grant her justice. He ignored her for a while but eventually decided to attend to her, if not for any reason, just so that she does not wear him out with her petition. In His summation, Jesus said, if the unjust judge could do a u-turn and respond to the the women’s pleas, how much more will God hear the prayers of his people and see that they get justice quickly?
Prayer is important because it is a weapon. It is no surprise that the enemy does not get bothered until we begin to pray. Satan is not really bothered when we organise meetings, events and conferences and fill up the auditorium with people. He only gets agitated when we pray! Prayer is not just a weapon of our warfare as Christians but it is an effective weapon against the powers of darkness.
Prayer helps us to hear from God - Prayer is not just about talking to God. For many of us, we tend to see prayer as a monologue. We come to God with thanksgiving and then place our petitions before Him. But prayer is actually a dialogue. It is also about hearing from God. If we spend all of our prayer time talking to God without listening to Him, we are only satisfying one aspect of prayer. As much as God wants us to call on Him, He also desires to speak to us.
Why do we need to listen to God when we pray? We are bombarded with a lot of voices and noise as we go through our daily lives. Some of the things we hear can be confusing and disturbing. It is important that we listen to what God is saying even the midst of all the cacophony around us. It is only through intentional listening to God in prayer that we are able to know discern His will in spite of all the noise around us.
In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shephered. In verse 3, He says, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…”. The Church is the sheep and we follow Christ because we know His voice. “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice” (verse 5) Sometimes, the reason we follow other voices is because we haven’t been listening to the voice of the Shephered and recognise His voice. The more time we spend intentionally listening to God in prayer, the more we will recognise His voice.
Finally, Prayer is important because if we don’t pray, nothing good happens. James said this as much; "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'?" James 4:1-5)
James says when we don’t pray, we want what others have and we do anything possible to have it even if it means doing things that are not in line with God’s will. When we pray however, we give all our desires and concerns to God.
Sometimes God will grant us those things immediately, or He may delay for a while so that we are ready for it or helps us see reason why that thing is not for us. James goes on further to say, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask”
The whole concept of the rat race is that man is consistently seeking something to satisfy him but it is an unending pursuit because one attainment leads to another aim. When we seek God for our needs, we are not only confident that he will meet those needs but that He is able to do more that we can ever ask or imagine.
As we meditate on this subject of prayer, let us remember that God wants His people to talk to Him but He also wants to speak to us. Let us remember that prayer isn’t just about trying to twist God’s arms to do our bidding but rather to align ourselves to His will so that whatever we ask the Father in the name of Jesus, we can be sure that He will do it. (John 14:13)