I never realized just how powerful prayer was until I read the book, “This Present Darkness“, by Frank Peretti. My eyes were opened to a whole new realm of life – the spiritual realm. It’s a realm where critical battles are fought, temptation is overcome and the heart of God is known.
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We don’t often realize the implication, the impact, or the reach that prayer has in both the physical and spiritual areas of your lives – and the lives of others. Martin Luther wrote: “No one can believe how powerful prayer is and what it can effect, except those who have learned it by experience. Whenever I have prayed earnestly, I have been heard and have obtained more than I prayed for. God sometimes delays, but He always comes.”
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Many believers were moved and motivated by the Christian film, “War Room“, which premiered in theaters in 2015. A wife worries that her family may be falling apart and is told by a wise older woman, “In order to stand up and fight the enemy, you need to get on your knees and pray”. The woman spoke from personal experience.
“Prayer is to the Christian what breath is to life, yet no duty of the Christian is so neglected.” R.C. Sproul
If our heart is set on living an abundant and fruitful life, dear believer, we must prioritize daily time in prayer. We all know it. But, for some reason, most of us are not totally sold out on its premise. Hopefully, once we’re done reading today, we’ll plunge happily into the presence of God and drench ourselves with the promises of restoration, strength and peace.
Why We Need Prayer
Besides the fact that we are commanded to pray (Colossians 4:2, Romans 12:2, Matthew 26:41), we’ll find that prayer is a sort of umbilical cord connecting us to God. It is in our abiding in Christ that we are nourished and in constant union with Him.
If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ. C.H. Spurgeon
Prayer is how we communicate with God
Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you”. God is attentive to his children and wants us to come and talk to him about everything that’s on our mind. He’s never too busy and listens not only to our words but to the longing in our heart, and not because he doesn’t know what’s going on in our lives, but because he delights in engaging in conversation with us.
“True prayer should pour out the whole soul and every inward feeling before him.” John Calvin
Prayer is where we get our strength
David cried out to God in Psalm 22:19: “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me”. After being in God’s presence for a time we often come away feeling energized, confident and ready to face the day. Yet each day has its challenges, complications and hurdles. Whether it’s the mundaneness of family life or the never-ending tasks to complete; and mixed in are the temptations we face and the heavy-heartedness of bearing up the burdens of others.
We may finish the day victorious and grateful for God’s strength through it all, but exhaustion overtakes us – and we know that we’ll need to begin the next day in the secret place with our Lord, where our strength is renewed like the eagle’s.
Prayer is how we battle in the spiritual world
We have been taught that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood“, but do we really believe it? Have we truly grasped the fact that there is a war in the spiritual realm that is raging around us? I will venture to say that we rarely experience victory because we fail to recognize what we’re really up against: “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
As we put on our armor in the presence of God each day, we prepare for battle. If we don’t put it on, we will be defeated as Satan attacks our heart and mind at every turn. We must be in the Word and prayer.
We pray for God to break down strongholds in Jesus’ name. We are to pray against Satan so that his plans cannot be carried out in this world, and in the lives of those we love.
“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” C.S. Lewis
Prayer is how we stand in the gap for others
To “stand in the gap” means to intercede on behalf of others and plead for God’s mercy. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”. It is our special ministry to advocate for the lost, the persecuted and those enslaved by sin, in the same way that Moses stood in the gap for the Israelites in Exodus 32.
If God calls us to intercede it’s because He plans on working in the lives of those we are praying for. Sometimes people will approach us and ask us to pray for them. Other times the Spirit of God will impress on our hearts to pray for a specific person. What an honor and privilege! Our own lives are often the result of answered prayer.
Prayer is where we surrender our burdens
When we think of burdens we think of something that is heavy, almost unbearable. God takes a special interest in our burdens, namely, the things that worry us. Jesus earnestly invites all those who are “weary and with heavy burdens” to come to Him. He promises rest and to come alongside and bear the load with us.
“Prayer is the center of the Christian life. It is the only necessary thing. It is living with God in the here and now.” Henri Nouwen
Prayer is how we fight temptation
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”(Matthew 26:42 NIV). Jesus said this to his disciples just before going into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. We all have areas in our lives where we are weak and vulnerable to certain sins. Satan knows exactly what they are and what buttons to push. He is cunning and knows just how to tempt us.
Human strength is not enough to resist the strategies of Satan. In our weakness we cry out to God for His strength, and He hears us! 1 John 5:14 says, “This the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”. He will give us the strength to resist and we will come through victorious.
Prayer is where God changes our heart and mind
The more time we spend in the Word and in the presence of God through prayer, the more our hearts will resemble that of Christ’s. It is unavoidable. This is good news! Why? Because we no longer have to strive to be like Jesus in our own strength. We don’t have to work for it. We just have to allow God to speak to us and change us as we walk in obedience by faith.
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Galatians 5 teaches us that if we walk in the Spirit we’ll be changed and the fruit will be evident in our lives. An important part of our prayer time is meditating on God’s Word. Our Lord speaks to us through His Word, which is how our minds are transformed. the Bible is the Living Word of God and does a work in our hearts like nothing else can.
“As well could you expect a plant to grow without air and water as to expect your heart to grow without prayer and faith.” C.H. Spurgeon
Prayer is where we repent and express our brokenness
We sin every day, and we will struggle with sin continuously until God calls us home. It’s important that we confess our sins daily before the Lord during our time of prayer. If we don’t we will begin to lose our sensitivity to sin and its effects, and begin to cherish sinful habits in our hearts. David said, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’. And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5 NIV)
We often have “pet sins” that we hold on to and refuse to turn them over to God. They may be “secret” sins that no one knows about. But, let’s be honest – God knows exactly what they are. There are times when we go before the Lord in our prayer time making a request, a request we’ve made many times without receiving an answer. We fail to realize that as long as we cherish sin in our hearts, God will refuse to answer because sin has become an idol.
Once we let go of sin through confession with a repentant heart, God will restore us, and our fellowship with Him will be sweeter than before. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV). God never turns away a contrite heart.
Prayer is how believers are unified
There are a number of instances in the book of Acts that give us precedent that priority should be given to corporate prayer. Miracles happened when believers pray together! The earth is moved, captives are freed and, the sick are healed and sinners come to Christ. Jesus expressed the importance of believers agreeing in prayer with the promise that He would personally show up and that the Father would respond.
Let’s face it. If we would spend more time together agreeing in prayer, we wouldn’t have much time to argue and complain about one another anywhere else. When Jesus prayed for all believers he prayed that we would be one, that we would be unified.
When we pray together, we set aside our differences and seek God’s will. And those differences diminish as we see the advancement of His kingdom as our number one priority.
“If prayer was so important to the incarnate Son of the living God, then how much more important should prayer be to us?” ~Paul Washer
I hope that you have been both challenged and encouraged after reading just how vital prayer is to Christian living. C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “It is well said that neglected prayer is the birth-place of all evil”. Let us pray! And C.S. Lewis once said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” We need prayer!
For further reflection I’ve included below a few links to some excellent articles by fellow bloggers and Bible teachers on the subject of prayer. Each one shares unique insights and practical tips so that we can become the prayer warriors we were meant to be.
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