Prayer that becomes a lifestyle.
In our modern world, it’s almost impossible to slow down from the hurried pace of everyday life if we are not truly intentional about doing it. We find it hard if not almost unbearable to just sit still, and if we ever have to wait somewhere- we find something to do immediately. The world we live in has conditioned us to always be on the go. Our culture is constantly luring us into accumulating more and more things in our frantic search for meaning. Instead of simplifying our life; we complicate it, all the while hoping that the extra things will fill the deep void within us. I say “we” and not “the world” because it seems to me that Christians are increasingly following the pattern of this world. Solitude is almost unheard of amidst Christians, and prayer is almost extinct from our lives as a result. Silence makes us uncomfortable because it’s in the quiet and the stillness that we hear the desperate voice of our soul crying out to us in anguish. We are afraid of facing the true condition of our heart, so we try to silence the voice that screams out to us by drowning it in the noise of life. Some of us have even become deaf to our truest self. As Christians, we simply cannot live without prayer. A life without prayer starves your spirit and cripples your faith. Jesus knew just how important prayer is and if you read the gospels carefully, you’ll notice that He treasured prayer and was intentional about seeking the refreshment that solitude alone can bring. Mark 1:35 (ESV) says, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Notice the importance of the word “desolate.” Jesus didn’t go anywhere to pray, he sought a place that was isolated, free of distractions and away from the noise of life. He embraced the beauty of solitude because he understood that God speaks to us when we are quiet enough to hear Him. If Jesus needed prayer, how much more do we? Jesus rose “very early in the morning” in order to pray, and we must start our day with prayer if we want to follow His example. In Ephesians 6, after Paul describes the whole armor of God, he ends by urging us to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18a). I believe Paul placed prayer at the end on purpose because he wanted to draw our attention to the fact that the armor of God is ineffective without prayer. If we want to be victorious in the spiritual battles of our lives, we must be people of prayer. We are not to pray once or twice and give up if nothing happens, but we are to pray “at all times.” Perseverance is the key to leading a life of prayer. One important aspect of perseverant prayer is praying “in the Spirit.” Many times, we pray for something that is not in the will of God and we get frustrated when God doesn’t answer despite our stubborn attempts of convincing Him that He needs to answer our prayer. When our prayers flow out of our flesh instead of God’s Spirit, it’s not that God doesn’t hear our prayers; He does, but He chooses not to answer them for our own good. However, God wants us to pray because prayer is effective: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Ultimately, prayer should not be about asking but about knowing the heart of a God who longs to hear us because He cares about every detail of our lives. As we allow God to teach us how to treasure solitude, we will find that the voice of our desperate soul is not the only voice we will hear. Authentic prayer causes us to hear the voice of God, as He gently and lovingly encourages, corrects, and quiets us. His voice brings life! Is prayer a part of your life? Do you set aside time every day for prayer? You might not always be able to go to a solitary place in nature to pray, but you can find a small, quiet space in your home or anywhere else- where you can talk to God daily. The more you will devote yourself to prayer, the more you will discover that prayer alone can give depth, vitality, and meaning to your relationship with God. A life without prayer is a life without God.