John Wallace wrote, "Prayer moves the hand that moves the world." Think about that. A simple, sincere petition can influence the Creator of the universe to intervene in your situation. Truly, prayer is a valuable asset to the believer. As such, it should be our first resource not our last resort. Unfortunately, some people treat God like the paramedics—they only call when they have an emergency! Perhaps if we call on Him more often we will have fewer emergencies.
James 5:16b (NKJV) emphatically states, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." In other words, prayer has a powerful impact and can make a profound difference. Prayer is the key to the heart of God that unlocks the door to all His resources—the spiritual equivalent of backing a truck up to the warehouse of heaven. Whatever you need from God (salvation, forgiveness, deliverance, healing, provision, peace, guidance) can be accessed via prayer. The Bible says, "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2 ). F.B. Meyer added, "The great tragedy of prayer is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer."
Prayer enables us to tap into a supernatural power source when human effort is inadequate. During the dark days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln stated, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all around me, seemed insufficient for the day."
Supernatural help is readily available if we recognize our need and ask for it. Simply put, prayer is talking to God. It is communicating with, connecting with and enjoying fellowship with your Maker. A clever church sign read, "Prayer is the best wireless connection." It is the way we stay connected to God. Prayer doesn't have to be lengthy, fancy or shrouded in religious jargon; it just needs to be sincere and from the heart.
God spoke to Moses and vice versa "face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex. 33:11b). A relationship is only as strong as its communication. Prayer should be a two-way conversation—a dialogue, not a monologue. Table tennis provides a helpful analogy. I've played a lot of ping-pong with my kids, but it's hard to play (and not much fun) with only one player. Someone must return the ball once you hit it over the net. So it is with prayer. There should be give and take. Once we pour our heart out to God, we should wait in His presence and listen for His answer. The purpose of prayer is not merely to inform God of our needs, but to invite His involvement in every area of our lives. "For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him" (Matt. 6:8b).
How important is prayer? It is absolutely essential. Prayer is the most important, and probably the most neglected, activity of the Christian and the church. Reformer Martin Luther said, "To be a Christian without praying is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
Prayer should be as normal to the believer as eating and sleeping. It should not be just a crutch in a crisis, but a consistent lifestyle. Skeptics often say religion is just a crutch for weak-minded people. I say it's much more than a crutch—it's my whole life-support system! The apostle Paul raised the bar when he told us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). In other words, always remain in a prayerful attitude or mindset. Prayer should not only be a daily discipline but an open-ended and ongoing conversation between us and God.
Prayer is akin to a spiritual umbilical cord. When an embryo is formed in its mother's womb, an umbilical cord connects from its navel to the placenta. Through it, the baby receives vital blood, oxygen and nutrition from its mother. That little cord is literally the baby's lifeline. If it is severed, the baby would die. Likewise, prayer is our spiritual lifeline that keeps us connected to God. If it is severed, we slowly die spiritually.
Prayer, like archery, involves aiming at and hitting a target. The target, of course, is the perfect will of God. The way to know God's will is to stay saturated with God's Word. God's will never contradicts His Word. Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7).
While that sounds like a blank check on the surface, notice the conditional term "if." For, if we truly abide in Him and His Word abides in us, we won't desire things that are contrary to His will. E. Stanley Jones Illustrates this point beautifully, "Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out an anchor from a boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to His will." So let God's Word guide your prayers like arrows to the bullseye of His will.
Prayer places all the resources of heaven at our disposal. The Scriptures are replete with examples of how prayer turned the tide in the favor of God's people. In fact, history proves that God moves when His people pray. Friend, take time to reignite your passion for praying and rediscover how your prayers can make a major difference. Prayer can do anything God can do.
In the words of the classic hymn "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," "O what peace we often forfeit/ O what needless pain we bear/ all because we do not carry/ everything to God in prayer." If we learn to pray about everything, we won't have to worry about anything (see Phil. 4:6, TLB). To achieve the most good for the kingdom of God in this world, the words of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, still ring true, "Work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on God!"
Note: This article is an excerpt from Ben's book A Practical Pattern for Prayer.
Ben Godwin is the author of four books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. To read more articles, visit his website at bengodwin.org and take advantage of his 4-book bundle for $25.
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