March 10, 2009
Time to Pray – part 2
“But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.”
Matthew 6:6 (NLT)
I hope many of you felt the sense of release that I did upon reading Jesus' instructions in Matthew chapter six yesterday on how to pray. I was so relieved when I realized Jesus didn't require me to hold a weekly all-night prayer vigil.
I confess, while I really wanted you to get that point, I feared giving you the impression that all we ever need to do is throw up 3-sentence prayers here and there. There is another component to a truly vibrant prayer life.
A common problem I see and have experienced myself is we’re so busy each day that we don't pause to pray - for ourselves or others. We don't plug into God, until a crisis happens. Even then, sometimes we're so used to dealing with things without praying that it can take awhile for us to remember to turn the problem over to God. So developing a pray-as-I-go-through-my-day mindset is important.
Equally as important as taking God along with me through my day and my to-do list, is to set aside and spend time with Him. To commune with Him. To read scripture. To pray, and to listen for His response. To be still in His presence and worship Him. This kind of thing can't be done on the run.
Plus, some issues we face in life, for whatever reason in the spiritual realm, cannot be solved with one or two quick prayers. We have to persist praying with faith. We may need to gather others to join us in praying, and to intercede on our behalf. It’s always necessary too, to keep in mind that God may not answer in the way we expect.
EM Bounds writes, "We would not have anyone think that the value of prayer is to be measured by the clock." He also asserts, however, "The short prevailing prayer cannot be prayed by one who has not prevailed with God in a mightier struggle of long continuance." I believe what the good pastor is saying is that when we find God faithful in the issues of life that have required much prayer and faith, it provides a foundation of trust, experience and relationship on which our short daily prayers can rest.
When I look at the life of Jesus and His prayer practices, I see lots of brief prayers He prayed. I also see instances when He spent extended time praying and communing with God. For instance, in Mark 1:35 we find Jesus alone in a solitary place, very early in the morning, praying. And in Mark 6:46, after miraculously feeding 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus leaves His disciples and goes up on a mountainside to pray. Matthew adds to Mark's account that Jesus remained there alone until evening (Matthew 14:23).
So let’s examine our prayer life for a moment. Could you benefit from learning to pray quickly during your day as needs arise? Is a set-apart time of leaning deeper into God with stillness and prayer what your soul is truly craving? Whichever it is, or both, decide to make it happen. We can start with a quick prayer for God to guide us in this.
Dear Lord, show me how to pray. Show me how to stay connected with You through prayer through out my day. And show me how to also steal away alone with You and be refreshed through prayer. Lead me, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Join us in becoming a prayer partner
Plan a time this week when you will steal away for some quiet prayer time with God. Maybe get up early one day, or head to a secluded park for lunch hour, or crawl in bed early one night with your Bible and pray.
Luke 11:1-12 teaches us to pray as Jesus did with confession, thanksgiving and glorifying God. This passage also shows us the importance of persistent prayer. Try modeling your prayers after this passage.
Corrie Ten Boom once asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 10 March 2009.