One way you and I can measure our faith is by the depth of our devotion to the Lord. I believe with all my heart that the more prayerful we become, the clearer we will see ourselves before God. It should also naturally follow that the more prayerful we become, the more we will depend on our heavenly Father and see ourselves more clearly before Him. This is just one reason that prayer is a supernal blessing and precious privilege that our Father has given us. As we are assured, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).
Our Father desires a close relationship with us. Indeed, this precious truth should motivate us to be more prayerful. Therefore, prayer will be a meaningful part of our lives. The admonition, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), emphasizes the prayerful attitude that should characterize our lives. In a very stressful time in his life, the psalmist David prayed, “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me” (Ps. 31:1-2).
Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of the most popular British poets, made the following observation regarding prayer: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” An even better statement regarding the power and efficacy of prayer is found in James 5:16: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” It has been accurately stated, “Prayer can be thought of as a precious jewel, as the more we look at it, the more we realize its beauty and brilliance.” The refrain from the following song reminds us of the bountiful blessing of prayer:
There’s a blessing in prayer,
In believing prayer,
When our Savior’s name
To the throne we bear;
Then a Father’s love
Will receive us there;
There is always a blessing,
A blessing in prayer.
Living a more prayerful life can only become a reality by an intentional effort on our part. To assist us in our striving to live a more prayerful life, please ponder the following suggestions:
- Give prayer a priority in your life. How important is prayer in your life? Have you ever chosen to pray instead of reading a book or watching a movie? When there has been pressing concern on your mind, have you ever devoted several hours in pouring out your heart to the Lord? Jesus taught His disciples, “They ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). In his comments on this verse, brother H. Leo Boles stated, “The spirit of prayer should be kept constant and alive by exercise” (Commentary on Luke, p. 340). The apostle Paul taught, “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2). I have read that the idea emphasized by the phrase “continue steadfastly” is to grab hold of something, and refuse to let it go. One application of giving prayer a priority in our lives is to set aside or schedule times that you will pray, and then remain true to your commitment.
- When you are discouraged, do not forsake the precious blessing of prayer. Life is not always easy. There will be situations and struggles in the lives of each of us that we may never understand this side of eternity. The reaction of some people to these kinds of challenges is to wonder why the Lord does not act as we believe He should. We must strive to never allow these frustrations to take our eyes away from the blessing of prayer. Across the span of his life, David experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. During a time of extreme anguish in his life, he told the Lord, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me” (Ps. 56:8-9). At times it may seen that the tears that fall to your cheeks will never end. But through whatever comes our way, God is always there and He is aware of what we are experiencing. During these times, you may become discouraged. But do not allow times of discouragement to hinder your devotion to prayer.
- Pray with full confidence of faith in God. Quoting from the Old Testament, the apostle Peter said, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Pet. 3:12). When you pray, do you believe that God hears you and your prayer can make a difference? Inspiration states, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). It has been said that to attempt to pray without confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers is to guarantee failure. Indeed, we have the certainty that God is listening. He will be attentive to our cries and pleadings. David exclaimed, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” (Ps. 66:19-20). James urged Christians, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (Jas. 1:6).
Within the past year I read the following account, which is allegedly true, from the life of Henry Ford. One day an insurance agent called on him, resulting in Ford buying a $1,000,000 policy on his life. When a friend of Ford’s, also an insurance agent, learned of Ford’s purchase, he was chagrined. Immediately this insurance agent asked Ford the reason he had bought the policy from another agent. Henry Ford matter-of-factly said that he had not inquired regarding him purchasing this kind of policy. In order to receive the benefits available to us in prayer, you and I must remember to pray. As I reflect on this story, it forces me to pause and consider how many good things from the Lord I may be missing simply because I failed to ask Him. As James stated, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (4:2).
The erudite Charles Spurgeon stated, “Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord. If you would like to reach to something than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer. When you open the winow on your side it will not be bolted on the other.”
Ere you left your room this morning
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ our Savior
Did you sue for loving favor as a shield today?
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don’t forget to pray.
Bruce preaches for the Bellville Church of Christ in Bellville, TX.