“Should do” Christianity has little power. Sadly, prayers too often fall into this category of Christian living–it ought not to be so! A recent report by Lifeway Research portrays the sad state of ‘should do’ praying. Executive Director, Ed Stetzer summed up the report by saying, “Most people pray when they need the red phone for help. But their prayer life isn’t a habit rooted in a relationship with God.” Such prayer lives bore the pray-er and fall far short of the exciting engagement prayer is meant to be. Praying is uniting our hearts with God…it does not get much more exciting than joining oneself to the Most High God!
The primary objective of prayer is to know God more. There is nothing happening that He does not already know. We are not earthly reporters giving a run-down of what God needs to pay attention to. Our prayers allow us to truly feel the heartaches we present to God—and listen to His loving response. Often times we have walked in the shoes of those we pray for…we are likely to have experienced the strain of a loved one’s illness or the grief of bereavement. As we ask God to comfort others, we use our experience but dig into the scriptures to find the words we need. We recognize the needs that we can meet and thus become the hands and feet of the Lord. Other needs humble us with the desperation of uncertainty; we rely on the Spirit to form our prayers and our responses. Our prayer is to know what God desires to say/do for the ones we pray for—and then we do what we can to ‘make His Kingdom come.’
Another critical piece of praying is understanding why our prayers have power in the first place. It is not the desperate needs we bring to God; it is not our sincere concern on our heart and mind. Prayers are answered because of the redemptive work of Christ. The answer to prayers is ‘yes and amen’ in Jesus Christ because of His sacrificial, complete work. We could not even present our petitions to the Most High God without Jesus. Indeed, even as we pray—through the help of the Holy Spirit—Christ serves as the High Priest in heaven praying for and with us. The work of Christ was to reconcile us to God—when we pray, we show value for His work! For His glory, the Father answers.
Prayers are often a last resort—but that ought not to be! When we do understand their potential—and realize that prayers are not simply thoughts or flippant words, praying becomes a joyous adventure. Yet, true prayer is also warfare and challenging spiritual work. It rends your heart; it may elicit tears and can leave you feeling spent. Prayer is inherently humbling for it is a begging for the work of the Spirit of God; it is total understanding that only God can fill the need. Intercessory prayer is powerful; it is a position of influence open to every Christian. Embrace it!