BLESSING #17: The Blessing of a Prayer Life
Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest preachers of English Methodism, once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep God’s people from praying . . . He laughs at your toil and he mocks at your wisdom. But he trembles when you pray!”
My lost friend Mike drives me to my knees every day as I think about what he doesn’t have in not knowing Christ. And his lack helps me focus on my blessings so I can pray for him to come into God’s family.
We are commanded in Psalm 103 to “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . .” (v. 2). I don’t think most Christians even know all the benefits they have in being saved. It’s hard to forget what we aren’t aware we have.
Let’s think about another benefit or blessing which followers of Jesus have —
17. WE HAVE A PRAYER LIFE!
I am not suggesting that my lost friends never pray. I’m sure many of them do. They pray when a loved one is seriously ill, when they’ve lost a job, when a child has wandered from the family at the beach and gotten lost, when the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry. But I have bad news.” And we Christians pray the same SOS prayers, don’t we?
THE BLESSING But I’m thinking about a prayer LIFE. What do I mean? I mean the believer should treat prayer as a critical weapon in his arsenal. He resorts to prayer when under attack by his supernatural foe the devil. He turns to the Lord in faith when all around him seems to shout “you’ve been abandoned by your God!” He cries out to the Father when he faces situations he hasn’t been able to deal with on his own.
THE BIBLE But those circumstances are emergency situations. How about daily interceding for our loved ones, praying for another believer’s spiritual growth, pleading with the Lord for a friend’s salvation? The prophet Samuel hit the nail on the head when he said to the people of Israel: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (I Sam. 12:23). Do we believers ever think of our failure to pray for others as a sin against the Lord?!
And we need to pray for ourselves. For we have many needs. That the Lord would reorder our priorities (Eph. 5:17). That He would give us His joy when life brings us down (Jn. 15:11). That we would rely on His strength instead of our own (Ps. 20:7). That we would engage in precious times of contemplating the Lord and His attributes (His mercy, goodness, kindness, strength, love, etc.) (Ps. 1:2; 77:12; 119:148; 143:5; I Tim. 4:15).
How we must grieve the heart of God when we treat Him as a kind of celestial vending machine. He is our Father, our Lord, our best friend, our Savior.
Scripture teaches us that prayer — (1) Can keep us from falling into temptation (Mt. 26:41); (2) Can help us love our enemies (Mt. 6:5); (3) Can give us sweet and secret times with our Father (Mt. 6:6); (4) Can remind us of God’s knowledge of our circumstances (Mt. 6:9); (5) Can test our belief in God’s meeting our needs (Mt. 21:22); (6) Can clarify God’s will for us and for others (Rom. 1:10); (7) Can make us aware of the Spirit’s assistance in interceding for us (Rom. 8:26); (8) Can test our faithfulness (Rom. 12:12); (9) Can practically help other believers (2 Cor. 1:11); (10) Can motivate us to pray for the spiritual growth of others (Eph. 1:18); etc.
ACTION STEPS 1. First of all, thank God for the gift of prayer, confessing your poor exercise of that discipline, if such is the case.
2. Is it not true that we often pray only mundane (meaning “earthly”) prayers, for such matters as health and jobs and conflicts? Each day this week read over one of the Apostle Paul’s prayers for a co-worker (such as Col. 1:9-14) and make a list of what Paul prays for . . . for others. Do the same for one of your friends each day this week.
3. Begin a prayer journal. This need not be a massive amount of time and energy, but make a few daily notes on what are the top items on your prayer list.
PRAYER 4. Pray for your unsaved friend — and perhaps even let him know that you are praying for him. Agree to pray for whatever he requests, and keep some notes so you can update your praying for him.