Pray . . .
"God awaits eagerly for us, His spiritual children, to come to Him in prayer. This is the Creator God who, in spite of our sin and self-centeredness, has done so much for us. As incredible as it seems, God wants our fellowship." —Bill Bright in Prayer Powerpoints
Pray . . . Just say the word and various emotions and images surface. We have visions of spending time alone with God in deep, intimate communion. With my memory's ear, I hear saints around an altar crying out to God. Who hasn't felt the tinge of guilt over not praying enough?
Pray . . . Think of all the books, brochures, sermons, and seminars on prayer. A plethora of material has been developed to challenge us, inspire us, teach us, and even scold us. We don't really need anything new on prayer, with one exception: we need to pray. Questions about why we don't pray haunt my soul.
- Do we not understand it?
- Do we not desire it?
- Do we not have time for it?
- Do we not realize how imperative it is to living the Christian life?
- Do we not comprehend that we will never be rooted in our faith if we don't pray?
- Do we not see that without prayer we will never truly be restored to the image of Christ?
Pray . . .
We have a problem with prayer. Maybe the problem is not so much with prayer as it is with praying. Perhaps we are hindered because we limit our perspective of prayer to a single approach.
Some see prayer only in a corporate setting, while others see it as a private matter. Some view it as a distinct block of time, while others see it as an ongoing conversation with God. Some believe prayer is an occasion to tell God what is on our hearts, while others see it as an opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit. We must approach prayer from a variety of perspectives. No one approach is sufficient for the communication that must occur between God and us. One size does not fit all.
We must use all avenues of prayer if we want God's presence to shape us into His image.
For example, because prayer seems to be lacking in our churches today, respected Christian leaders have traveled the world calling the Church back to corporate prayer. The Church today must be a praying Church if God's presence will work among us.
E.M. Bounds pointed out, "What the church needs today is not more machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but [people] whom the Holy Spirit can use — [people] of prayer, [people] mighty in prayer." However, to limit praying to times of corporate worship is to deny the full potential of this spiritually formative discipline.
We must also pray "in our closets" (see Matthew 6:6), speaking and listening to the Holy Spirit. Likewise, to limit prayer to a distinct block of time when we're alone with God will cause us to live the Christian life in our own strength. Prayer must be a continual conversation with God (see The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence).
The challenge is: "Pray continually" (1 Thes. 5:17). Churches . . . pray! Christians . . . pray! Pray together. Pray in your closet. Pray when you're driving. Pray when you're walking. Pray when you're working. Pray . . . pray . . . pray . . . continually!
Andrew Murray said, "I must believe in His infinite love, which really longs to have communion with me every moment and to keep me in the enjoyment of His fellowship."
Pray . . .
Dwight M. Gunter II is senior pastor of Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.
Holiness Today, March/April 2005