The dustiest place in the home of most Christians is the prayer closet. It’s that special place of solitude where you can get away from the phone, computer, TV, and other distractions to talk to God. I’ll be first to raise my hand and say that my prayer life is wanting. What about you?
Of all the benefits the Lord gives to those who trust him is the invitation and encouragement to pray. So why don’t we do it more? I think it’s symptomatic of our lack of inherent good and shows our failure to trust God as we should.
So far as I know, prayer (asking God) is the primary way we creatures are to get what we need from the Creator. There are some very big promises given to those who pray! The best one is that God will answer! I have often said “Only those who pray get their prayers answered”, and it’s very true. If you develop the habit of going to God to ask for what you need, and even want, you are very likely to see results. Of course we don’t always get what we request in prayer for a variety of reasons, the most common is that we ask for the wrong things for the wrong motives. And, one thing is certain, if you don’t ask you will not receive an answer.
I believe that regular answers to specific prayers should be the usual experience of Christians, and not unusual. I am keenly aware of my spiritual limitations and the distance between where I am as a follower of Jesus and where I ought to be. I am far from being the best example. But you know what? God often answers my humble prayers. I could write a book about the many, many specific answers to specific prayers in my long life. I also had the privilege to observe my mother’s prayer life over many, many years. Her prayers were child like in that they were simply a child asking her father for what she needed.
My father died in the late spring of 2003. After dad’s death my blind mother lived alone for several years. Her remarkable prayer life seemed to become even more remarkable after dad was gone. When mamma needed a gallon of milk on a snowy night it never occurred to her that she should call a neighbor or one of her nephews or nieces, not mamma, she simply said to God “Lord, I need a gallon of milk for the morning”. Perhaps 10 minutes later there was a knock on the back door. When mamma opened the door a neighbor (at about 10:00 p.m. in a snow storm) said to her, “I’m going to the store and thought I’d see if you needed a gallon of milk or anything”. Coincidence? No, there were far too many such answers to her prayers. It always seemed to me that the only reason she shared so many of those stories was that it was her opportunity to brag on her God!
The failure to pray is a first indication of a lack of faith. When you read the Bible it defies logic that a child of God would need something and not ask God for it. By the way, if you study the prayers of the Bible and all of the teaching about prayer in the Bible you will find that prayer is simply asking. If there is no asking there is no prayer. Many books and seminars, and even sermon series on prayer, often are not much more that a bunch of reasons why you should not expect clear answer to your prayers. Meditation on God and his word are good but not prayer. Thanksgiving often goes along with prayer but is not itself prayer. Confessing of sins is good and we ought to do it but it isn’t prayer.
Will you pray? As my friend Dr. Keith Roberts titled his book, “God Waits for you to Pray“, and He does. There are many disciplines associated with Christian growth and moving toward maturity in Christ but in my opinion, most of them are futile exercises if you are not regularly praying.
Here are some suggestions.
- God’s isn’t impressed with King James English. Just use your normal manner of speaking and vocabulary and simply ask God for what you need and want.
- Regular and focused prayer will resolve many other issues such as personal sin, broken relationships, and allowing Jesus to be solely Lord of your life.
- Pray the moment you think of something you should bring before God. Often when someone approaches me about praying for something I’ll do it right on the spot. I’ll either silently pray or more likely say, “Let’s do that now so I wont forget” and I’ll begin to pray.
- There is nothing that expresses your utter dependence on God as well as praying.
- God has everything you need, he loves you, so ask!
- I admit, I don’t do this but keeping a prayer journal could be very helpful. Logging prayers and then seeing how God has answered is a faith building exercise.
- Glorify God when he grants your request! Tell someone about his faithfulness!
- Don’t pray to be heard by others. Be very careful, especially in public prayers, to be brief, to be specific and only pray to God. He doesn’t need to be taught a Bible lesson or preached to. He just needs to hear you ask for what you need.