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Prayer

Do You Pray?

Prayer
It is nothing new for Christians to struggle in their prayer life—we don’t think we have the time, we get easily distracted, or we’re simply apathetic towards the command to pray. This should lead us to ask the question, do we think that prayer really works? Do we believe it is effective in accomplishing goals? And if it is, why are we not more committed to it?
 
 
When people believe that something is truly effective in accomplishing a goal, it is amazing how faithfully they commit to it. We see it all the time: protests and rallies to accomplish some political goal, exercise and clean eating to achieve greater health, even activities such as meditation and positive thinking to improve one’s state of mind. When we witness this kind of commitment demonstrated by so many in the secular world, it ought to get Christians thinking about our own commitments.

It is nothing new for Christians to struggle in their prayer life—we don’t think we have the time, we get easily distracted, or we’re simply apathetic towards the command to pray. This should lead us to ask the question, do we think that prayer really works? Do we believe it is effective in accomplishing goals? And if it is, why are we not more committed to it?

The first thing we must remember is that God’s people are commanded to pray (Mt. 6:7, 1 Thess. 5:27). Therefore, out of simple obedience to our Lord, we ought to be committed to our prayer lives. Beyond this incentive however, the Bible teaches clearly that God, in His providence, uses our prayers to bring about His will.

Jesus tells His disciples “Truly truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn. 16:23-24). Now, we want to be careful that we don’t pluck up a verse like this, void of context, and treat God as some sort of “cosmic genie” who grants our every wish. We are called to pray by the Spirit, according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27, Mt. 26:39), yet we are assured that God will answer according to that very will. We must understand that God uses the prayers of His people to accomplish what He has purposed.

One example of this truth is that of Moses, who prayed to God that He might not destroy Israel, and God used that prayer according to His ultimate purpose, to spare and preserve His people Ex. 32:11-14). Another instance is seen in Elijah, who prophesied that it would not rain in Israel (1 Ki. 17:1), which James, in the New Testament, confirms was accomplished by God through Elijah’s fervent prayer (Jas. 5:17-18). He uses this as an encouragement for all Christians, that God hears our prayers and truly uses them to bring about His will.

In light of this beautiful reality, we must consider our duty before Christ and His entire body. Far too often, our prayers are limited to our needs and the needs of those immediately around us. However, our prayer life must extend beyond this; the church is one body, of one Spirit, with one head—we are united, and we must be concerned with the desperate needs of all our brothers and sisters. The writer to the Hebrews reminds this congregation to “Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3).

We are so very blessed in the United States to be in the historically unique position of having the freedom to worship and proclaim Christ freely. We do not live in fear of being imprisoned or killed for owning a Bible or praying in public. But these and other terrifying realities are what so many of our siblings in Christ deal with daily. The exhortation to the Hebrews is clear: we must love the body to the point that the pains of those suffering for Christ on the other side of the world are felt by us. We must, by the power of the one Holy Spirit, deeply empathize with our persecuted family. It is only when we are deeply moved in this way that we will be able to intercede diligently, desperately, and effectively for Christ’s universal church.

The best way to foster this empathy is by availing ourselves to the accessible information about the persecution going on around the world today. When we take the time to read about our suffering brethren, to hear details of the fear and torture they endure for the sake of the gospel we so often take for granted, then we will be much more apt to pray seriously and specifically on their behalf, as if we were suffering right alongside of them.

We would do well to multiply our prayer in every area of life; but we have a very sacred responsibility before our persecuted church family and before our Lord Jesus Himself to intercede on behalf of those who suffer for the kingdom. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power in its working” (Jas. 5:16).
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA. Click here for more RCSH Blog posts.
 
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