Prayer is based on our confidence in GOD and in His love. This is because He first loved us (1 John 4:10 & 19). By Christ’s death and resurrection, we have access to GOD through prayer. (Heb 4:14-16)
Prayer is the most important activity of a Christian. John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon and R. A. Torey in particular, have emphasised this.
(See http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/notes-prayer/ for a more specific treatment of prayer).
This article aims to make our prayer life more meaningful. It poses an ‘audit’ of our prayer life. It asks questions so that we can approach our prayer life realistically.
Are we praying because we are afraid of GOD?
Are we praying because we are afraid that GOD would not care about us?
Are we praying only for benefits from GOD? Are we treating GOD as, what Oswald Chambers terms, a “blessing machine” just to obtain benefits?
Are we treating prayer only as what R. Arthur Matthews terms an “emergency ambulance service”, as a last resort when we are unable to resolve a crisis?
Are we praying for GOD’s plans to come about on earth?
Are we praying because we love GOD?
The issues of our everyday existence are important. We all have our shortcomings when approaching GOD. However, relating meaningfully and completely to GOD should be our main aim in prayer. Only then would the secondary matters be relevant.
Prayer as a Priority
If we do not treat prayer as a priority, we risk postponing it. Prayer could then gradually fall away from our daily lives.
The great Christians would rise early in the morning and devote hours to prayer before commencing their other activities. It was prayer that made them great.
The Bible does NOT fix a specific time of day for prayer. David and Isaiah wrote about seeking GOD early in the day (Ps 5:3; Isa 26:9).
Though GOD’s people prayed three times daily, this was not prescribed for in the Old Testament (Daniel 6:10).
The New Testament records the times of prayer as the third, sixth and ninth hours(9.00 am,12.00 noon & 3.00 pm). They coincided with Christ’s suffering on the cross (Mark 15:25; Mark 15:33-34;Luke 23:44-46).
However, any time of day is appropriate for prayer. The main thing is to stick to praying no matter what time of day it is. Consistency and staying power are important.
Clarity of Prayer
What do we pray for?
Are we specific or are we vague in what we pray for?
Chapter 17 of John’s gospel is a prayer by Christ. Meditating on it would show us how to be clear when we pray.
The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is another prayer that we could also meditate upon.
From these two prayers, we can see how prayer is a clear and specific relationship with GOD.
Charles Spurgeon said that it was not the length of our prayers that mattered, but the depth of our prayers. Prayers, if clearly formulated, would result in a strong and deep pursuit of GOD.
Do our prayers focus on the will of GOD and on His glory being fulfilled?
What is the will of GOD? The will of GOD is for all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).
What is the glory of GOD? The glory of GOD is anything accomplished which gives praise and overwhelming significance to GOD, and not to the ego or pride of man in any way.
Do our prayers include those two aims as their focus?
Are we merely confined to making only relief from disasters the substance of our prayers?
Do we pray for specific church members regularly or, only when they have critical needs?
Do we pray for those who persecute and manipulate us (Matt 5:44).
Do we pray for those with whom we have disagreements with or, are our prayers blocked by our bitterness (Matt 5:23 & 24 & Heb 12:15)?
Do we surrender personal conflicts totally to GOD?
Do we pray for the spread of the gospel in all countries?
Do we have specific missionaries or missionary organisations that we pray for in these countries?
Do we pray for the deliverance of persons in countries going through religious persecution?
Are we using the things we request for, for the happiness of our fellow Christians?
Are our requests incorrectly based on hedonism (love of pleasure) and the personal lusts of the flesh?
Are we including thanksgiving in our prayers?
Sieving/ Selective Prayers
Do we surrender all matters in our lives to GOD in prayer?
Do we selectively keep some issues away from GOD and deliver only the more ‘difficult’ ones to GOD? This is a breach of our trust in GOD. In 1 Peter 5: 6 & 7 we are asked to cast all our cares to GOD in humility. Keeping matters away from GOD is cultivating spiritual pride.
Prayer is to be made always (Eph 6:18), continually (1 Thess 5:17), everywhere (1Tim 2:8) for everything (Phil 4:6).
Everything must be delivered to GOD. All things, no matter how insignificant, should be prayed for. There are no exceptions to prayer whether (say) for driving a vehicle or being engaged in sports.
Neither is secret sin to be kept away from GOD. It may turn out to be too late (James 4:14). We must deliver sin to GOD in prayer without delay.
Prayer is a total, non-stop activity in our lives. It is a full relationship with GOD.
Do we have a prayer record/note book or mobile with the names of the persons and the items to pray for? This is a common neglect.
Are our prayers reactions to the needs of the moment?
Do we pray only when we casually recall our prayer items?
Do we organise our prayer requirements into a proper system?
Do we have a prayer calendar from our church? If none, could we prepare one for the congregation?
Are we part of a prayer chain contacting each other to pray in emergencies? If none, could we start one?
Prayer requires total commitment at any moment. We should develop a clear and systematic approach to prayer.
Nothing is too small for prayer.
Our commitment to prayer is neither legalistic nor mechanical. We are not under pressure to pray. But we should not take a light view of prayer. Prayer is serious business with GOD.
We should experience the sheer joy of praying, with strong conviction in what we turn over to GOD. Our prayer efforts must not stress us out. The joy of the LORD is our strength (Neh 8:10).
NOTE: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering, in Perth, Western Australia. Prior to this, he was attending the Church of Our Holy Saviour, in Labuan, East Malaysia. When in Kuala Lumpur, he worships at Faith Oasis Fellowship (FOF) Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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