F.B. Meyer, the author of the great little book, The Secret of Guidance said, “The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but un-offered prayer.”
Ephesians 6:18 (GW)
Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people.
Prayer is an integral part of worship, many times, we don’t even consider the importance of prayer, we think that its only for when we face a challenge or when we need help from God. Prayer should be a lifestyle. Prayer is just as important or dare I say even more important than the air we breathe.
When Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, his instruction is to pray in every situation. Many times, we come to God in prayer out of need rather than wanting a relationship with God. While I am not saying that we should not pray for what we need, scripture tells us that we should pray for what we need, but this should not be the only reason we come to God.
1.Needy prayer vs relationship
Prayer is communicating with God, we need to understand that it’s a two-way relationship, we talk to God and we also need to listen to God. This relationship can also be likened to that of a parent child relationship. Prayer should be conversation; it should be a moment where we can lay all our cards down honestly before God.
Prayer should be a time when we connect with God, when we connect with the heart of God. When we spend time honouring and worshipping God for who he is. Like any relationship communication is key, and prayer is the key in having a relationship with God. It allows us to draw closer to him.
Our desire in prayer should not only focus on our needs but should also focus on our want and willingness to have a relationship with God. When the bible speaks about worshipping God in spirit and in truth, this should overflow into our prayer lives.
1 John 15:7 (GW)
If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours.
When Jesus says if you live in him – what he is telling us is that the first thing we need to have is a relationship with God. We cannot approach God in prayer and in worship if we do not have a personal intimate relationship with him.
The moment of truth as to when we are stepping of track from being needy to being relationship focused, is when our prayers become no longer God centred but rather “me” centred. Its all about me, myself, and I. What I want, what I need, what God should do for me.
Prayer should be first and utmost about God. Its about living or abiding in him and his word in us, and if this becomes our primary focus then he tells us in 1 John 15:7 – ask anything and it will be yours. But it should be about God first before you.
So yes, we can bring our needs before God, but this should never trump our desire and want to have a relationship with God. We should never focus on what we can get out of the relationship, but what we can give to God.
2.Developing a lifestyle of prayer
A lifestyle should be something that is not determined by a schedule or out of necessity or obligation. It should become as basic and important as the air we breathe. It should become a part of who we are, there shouldn’t be a day when we go without coming before God.
When Paul spoke about praying without ceasing, it was something that he was saying should not be limited, it should not be conditional. When we talk about unceasing prayer, it relates to a closeness to God, that we would not want to live without. It’s a deep longing desire to be more intimate with God.
The question though that we need to ask ourselves is when does having a lifestyle of prayer become a lifeline of prayer. When we don’t get results and we’ve exhausted all other avenues, when we’ve tried plan A to Y, and we do not have any other plans or options, and so we go to God as our plan Z.
God was never the first choice, he was never the plan A, he was an afterthought. When we use prayer as a lifeline and not as a lifestyle, what we are telling God is – you know what God, I can manage my life without you. I am all good, things are going well.
But just hang around I might need you that in the off chance my friends and family and the world doesn’t come through for me. God is far from the first person we go to.
Genesis 3:8-9 (GW)
In the cool of the evening, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking around in the garden. So, they hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. 9 The Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
When God created Adam and Eve they were in relationship with God, it was a lifestyle, it was something that they did every day. But when sin entered, man hid, man was longer in the place where God would meet him every day.
For many people, the time and place where you meet God, does not exist any longer. God cannot find you there, and he is asking you, “Where are you?”
You see that lifestyle of prayer, that lifestyle of coming before God in worship does not exist anymore, we have drifted away from this relationship that God seeks. If I could put it in a worldly sense we have come to the point where we are “divorced from God in our prayer life” we only look to him now when we want him to pay “alimony” and our relationship with God has been severed.
3.Prayer a fundamental in true worship
Prayer is one of the greatest privileges a man has. Just the thought that we are able to communicate and have a relationship with a God who loves us, who created the universe, who knows how many hairs are on our heads – blows my mind. Yet its that same privilege that many times we take for granted.
Prayer is not just about asking God for things, but its also about praising & worshipping God. Prayer should be more about coming before God in praise and worship, adoring God for who he is.
Luke 11:1 – 2 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
When Jesus gave the disciples the way in which to pray, there are a few things to consider.
- The disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them how to do miracles how to heal the sick, but what they asked Jesus was to teach them to pray. The importance of prayer is indicated here. Prayer is one of the fundamentals in our relationship with Christ. Once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the next thing we need to do is to develop this relationship, and one way is to spend time in prayer.
Prayer moves the hand of God, prayer yields results, prayer opens doors. Prayer strengthens our relationship and dependency on Jesus Christ. Unless we develop a prayer life, that is founded in spirit and in truth –
- We can never be fully surrendered to God.
- Our worship unto God will always be about the flesh, it will be about what makes us feel good.
- We open up the door to carnality.
- We use God as a lifeline rather than our only source of hope.
2. The second thing that he taught in the prayer, was that we need to give God worship and glory first before anything else. The prayer starts with “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be you name”. Jesus was in essence telling us here that the name of God, should be exalted, should be worshipped and honoured. This should be priority.
God should be given priority in every aspect of our lives including that of our prayer life. Many times we bring a long list of needs and wants before God, some needs might be our fleshly desires, sometimes a need for healing, and maybe even for breakthroughs for family and friends and our situations, and in that long list we forget totally about God and giving God the glory.
But when we study the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples, the first part of our prayer should be worship and praise unto God, we can ask God all we want after that, but priority should be to worship God.
When we eliminate the flesh in our prayer life, and we being to operate in the spirit, and allow the Holy Ghost to take control, we eliminate all forms of the unholy trinity – me, myself & I, and the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost, becomes all we live for.
If you do not have a prayer life, let us cultivate one that is founded on the truth of God’s word. Let us develop a habit of coming before God, in worship and prayer and giving him the best of who we are and not the scraps.
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