Prayer is oxygen to the soul. Without prayer we will suffocate in the toxic fumes of a world that is exuding lethal molecules into our spirit that significantly mitigate our spiritual health. Prayer is like a firefighter’s oxygen mask in a burning structure. That mask and oxygen system allows them to go into a hazardous environment and keep from being overcome by smoke and dangerous burning debris. Without that mask and oxygen supply they would soon become victims themselves. They would be unable to carry out their mission to rescue people and put out the fire that is destroying everything in its path. If that oxygen system is not working properly it also puts them in danger. Their training requires that they go into those environments prepared for the worst and protected by the best resources. Prayer is a critical component of being trained properly to live in a world that exudes some dangerous toxins. How well we are trained depends on how well we function in that environment. Here are a few ways to think about our spiritual training:
- The Act of Prayer – even unbelievers will pray on occasion. The reality is simply that anyone can call out to God. Remember the demon-possessed man in Matthew 8 where the demons cried out to Jesus and they were afraid of him (Luke 8:28-29).
- The Activity of Prayer – the activity of prayer is easily attainable but not always authentic. Luke 18:11-12 speaks of the tax collector parading his thoughts in public and his prayer was disingenuous. He was more impressed with himself about his performance than real relationship with God.
- Praying with no response (James 4:3) – many people pray but never receive answers. This text makes it plain that these people may pray but always have inappropriate motives and so they do not receive anything. The flip side of this, of course, are people who see God respond and they receive what they ask because they are committed to asking according to God’s will; apparently a significant difference (1 John 5:13-15).
- Praying without losing hope (Luke 18:1-8) – diligence and persistence in prayer is valued by God. This is hard because prayer does not seem to bear any fruit; we just keep on knocking on the door and knocking on the door and waiting patiently for God to respond.
- Pray without ceasing: (1 Thess. 5:17) – there is the command (admonition) to keep on praying continually about all of the circumstances and issues we face in life. Praying is a constant process of communication with God that saturates our life with this ongoing discussion with the Lord. These people have a unique respect for God that is observably recognized as a defining aspect of their life.
- Praying as a way of life – Luke 2:36-37 speaks of Anna, a prophetess who was “serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” She, like Simeon, was righteous and devout and God gave these two the privilege of seeing the Christ face to face. Their devotion to prayer is a remarkable commitment of humility and dependence on the Lord. The defining mark of their life, the legacy they leave are two people deeply devoted to prayer as a way of life and ministry. These people are what we often call “prayer warriors”.
- Praying with power – (James 5:16-18) “the prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much” (NASB). Literally the phrase is something like, “energizes much influence”. The idea here is that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful because things happen.
Certainly I can do # 1-3 pretty easily but nothing to brag about there for sure. The last four have a certain character about them that appear to be forged in the crucible of extenuating circumstances by those who learn to trust God demonstrate a certain maturity in faith that has learned to truly embrace the promises of God as the foundation of their life.
May you know the fruitful power of life devoted to humble prayer before our Father.
In His grace – Pastor Brad