“Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion. All other subjects are second to it. Reading the Bible, keeping the Sabbath, hearing sermons, attending public worship, going to the Lord’s Table—all these are very weighty matters. But none of them is as important as private prayer” ( J. C. Ryle, 1816–1900).
I’m going to be totally honest. Prayer is, at the same time, the easiest and the hardest spiritual discipline for me. It is easy in that it does not require that I have any special talents, sophisticated vocabulary, or a specific place I need to go. And yet it is difficult because I am easily distracted, lack faithfulness, and am ignorant to the dangers of a prayerless life. More times than I like to admit, I forget that I have an adversary who is plotting my demise. God has equipped me with the weapons I need to fight back, but do I?
Prayer is a privilege I take for granted. It is a gift I don’t always value. And yet, in my most desperate times what have I found myself doing? Praying, almost as if it is instinctive.
From Adam and Eve to the Apostle John, prayer is found throughout God’s Word. Most of us know prayer is speaking to God, but it’s so much more than that. It is an opportunity to experience fellowship with God, allowing us to draw near to Him at any time.
One of the reasons so many of us are slow to pray is because we do not believe prayer is important. We think we can make it through our day without the help and guidance of God. We act as though we are strong enough to resist temptation, brave enough to fight the attacks of Satan, savvy enough to navigate the ways of the world, and knowledgeable enough to interpret the Word of God on our own. We believe we are self-sufficient.
When studying the life of Jesus, we can’t help but notice the number of times He withdrew from people to spend time with His Father in prayer (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12; 22:32). The Son of God who calmed storms, banished demons, and overcame sickness knew the importance of prayer and made it a part of His daily life. We need to follow His example.
Prayer is important because it focuses our eyes on Jesus, gives us strength, draws us close to God, brings comfort, produces peace, and ignites our love for God. Prayer is a place of refuge during times of sorrow and pain, a place of healing for the battered and hurt. It is a time to seek clarity and wisdom; it is a time of praise and worship.
As we spend the next few weeks studying the importance of prayer, I hope God opens our eyes to the wonder and power we have when we approach His miraculous throne of grace.
We are looking forward to starting The Importance of Prayer study with you on MONDAY!
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