Reading Time 4 min 58 sec - Speaking Time 9 min 34 sec
For June, efforts to "Renew our Faith" continue with considering prayer. There are many approaches to discussing the subject of "Prayer." For example:
Church leaders say that prayer is the action in life that we need most to do but do the least. Therefore, before we study how to pray, who to pray to, and what to say, it would be prudent first to understand some of the important reasons we ought to pray.
First, let's define prayer as communication and communion with God. We should also be aware that prayer does not have to be verbal. You can pray in silence; man can do prayer with his body; man can pray with his life. The more ways we can learn to pray, the better it will be for our souls.
Here are three reasons why we should pray:
1. Prayer is how we unburden our hearts of the anxiety and guilt that plagues us because of sin. Amazingly, people will try everything under the sun to deal with their worries and fears (drugs, self-help methods, escapes, and devices) before finally coming to God in prayer.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.- I Peter 5:6-7
Notice that Peter doesn't say that we have to work out our problems and give them to God for approval, nor does he suggest that we pray and ask God for the solutions so we can take care of the problems with His divine help (e.g., "God, give me the plan…!"). He says to take the burden off of your heart and give it to God — that's it! I'm not saying that this absolves us of the responsibility for our lives and problems, but through prayer, we can detach ourselves from the anxiety, fear, and stress caused by these things.
Prayer serves us the same way when we use it to deal with the problems we have due to the sin in our lives. As Christians, we often sin and fail in living as we ought. God knows this and has given us the avenue of prayer as the starting point in addressing these issues. Yes, we must resist temptation and secure the help we need to do away with sinful behavior. John writes the first action in combatting sinfulness is to acknowledge it as such and appeal to God for help and forgiveness in sincere prayer.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - I John 1:8-9
For the non-Christian, forgiveness comes through baptism (Acts 2:38). However, for the Christian, God has provided the spiritual exercise of prayer to accomplish spiritual healing. We need to pray because we leave with God the worry caused by trials and the guilt due to our sins through this action. No other method is more effective to these ends than prayer. Prayer is a vital rhythm in the health of the soul.
2. We need to pray because prayer initiates spiritual and physical blessings for ourselves and others (Matthew 6:31-32).
In Matthew 7:7, Jesus tells us that we should ask for the things we need, and God (who knows what we need) will provide according to His will and purpose.
Our society prides itself on being independent. The world admires the self-made man/woman, and we strive to be fully self-sufficient or at least the dominant partner in any cooperative enterprise we undertake. As Americans, it goes against our training, history, and character to be dependent, yet, in reality, this is what we are — totally reliant on God!
Prayer is our expression of dependence on God. We cannot think of or enumerate everything needed to sustain our daily lives, but in prayer, we express our dependence on God to supply everything we need. In addition to the physical things required, prayer is also the way we access the "spiritual" blessings necessary for growth in the kingdom of God.
Paul describes specific blessings only obtainable through prayer in his letter to the Ephesian church. There are no physical ways to generate things like spiritual wisdom, a more precise knowledge of God, and an understanding of eternal life through Jesus Christ other than through an active prayer life.
For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
- Ephesians 1:15-18
3. Prayer is necessary because, through prayer, we sanctify (purify) everything that we have to consume or use with a clear conscience and a joyful heart.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. - I Timothy 4:4-5
Is there anything in this world that is not imperfect because of sin? Are we not compromised in some way no matter what we do? For example:
Join us at the Brookfield Church of Christ, where we will present four sermons on "Prayer" for your consumption and spiritual benefit.
Barry G. Johnson, Sr.
An Evangelist at the Church of Christ which meets in Brookfield, IL.