Since this is prayer and fasting week, I thought I would write a little bit on the subject of prayer. Why do we do it? What are we trying to accomplish? If God is sovereign and in control of everything, what good does it do for me to pray? Isn’t God going to have His way regardless of my prayer life?
Theologians have been discussing and debating the nature of prayer for a long time. If I were to be honest with you, I would have to admit that I am still learning and growing on the subject of prayer. As I’ve grown older and more mature in my faith, however, I’ve learned that prayer is essential to my Christian walk.
Prayer is so essential to our spiritual lives that I dare say there has never been a spiritually effective Christian that wasn’t a man or woman of prayer. David, who was considered a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), may have penned more prayers than anyone in history. His Psalms expressed a heart that was devoted to God. In Psalm 32 David wrote, “Let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when you may be found.” Thus sets the standard, godly people are people of prayer. This standard is exemplified by the lives of the Apostles who “gave themselves continually to prayers in to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). More importantly, it was exemplified by the life of Jesus who “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
You simply can’t lead a powerful Christian life apart from prayer.
Prayer is so essential that Jesus took the time to teach His disciples how to do it (Matthew 6:9-13). But consider this, it wouldn’t even be possible to approach God in prayer had it not been for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, “So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The ‘curtain’ into God’s presence is his body” (Hebrews 10:19-21, Message).
Jesus role-modeled prayer, taught us how to pray, and paved the way, via the cross, that allows us to approach God in prayer. That’s how important prayer is.
According to Richard Foster, prayer is ultimately about change. Not necessarily change where God is concerned, but change where we are concerned. In fact, prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. How? We are taught to pray not for our will but for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10). This means there are going to be times that I have to bend my will to match God’s. Those of us who are unwilling to change will ultimately abandon prayer.
To step into the presence of God and genuinely pray for His will to be done is to put His will above our own … and God uses such encounters to transform us to conform to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29). Consider Jesus’ prayer, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Brothers and sisters, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much!” (James 5:16).
This week, I am praying for those of you who are participating in our week of prayer and fasting. May God use this week to transform your life!