‘Be…faithful in [devoted to] prayer.’ (Rom. 12:12 NIV)
The little request for God’s help when things don’t go the way we expected them to. The “thank you for this food” ritual before eating. The 30 minutes of church prayers when it’s difficult to keep the mind engaged. Is this what prayer is?
Maybe, for some of us, it is. It has been for me at times, too.
Prayer is often described as ‘talking with God.’ For a long time, I struggled to experience what others seemed to suggest they enjoyed while praying: a two-way conversation with God. I’d got into my head the notion that I should hear the audible voice of God responding to me when I prayed. And that never happened! So I’d get to the end of my little prayer exercise feeling like a failure. When I learned that the Bible is the complete and sufficient Word of God – where God ‘speaks’ to us – everything changed.
God shows us, in the Bible, that prayer is an opportunity and privilege to:
- Praise him for who he reveals himself to be
- Thank him for his salvation and his eternal presence in our lives
- Speak to him about the everyday challenges and concerns of life
- Ask him for wisdom and discernment to honour him by living life guided by his Word
God speaks to us through his Word; we speak to God in prayer. With that reality properly understood, it’s an encouragement to commit time to hear God through his Word and speak to him each day, isn’t it? The Sovereign, Almighty, all-knowing God invites us to know him better, and to trust him more and more (Ps. 25:14).
But modern life seems to be designed to prevent us from reading God’s Word and finding a private ‘place’ to speak to God (see Jesus’ teaching about prayer in Matthew 6:5-15). If we’re going to grow as followers of the Lord Jesus, we’ve got to learn to be ruthless about removing unnecessary distractions. I read this a couple of years ago:
Prayerless Christianity is practical atheismMatt Smethurst
Let that one sink in. If we’re not praying, we’re likely trusting in our own strength, abilities, and resources, or those of others around us, rather than God. Prayer, then, is evidence – to us, personally – of our claimed faith in God.
If you use a mobile device to read the Bible and use a prayer reminder app like PrayerMate, it’s best to switch off all notifications while you read and pray. If you use a hard copy Bible, silence your devices (or put them in another room) while you devote yourself to quiet, intentionally undistracted time with God. I appreciate it’s not easy to do this because they’re designed to grab and keep our attention, but once those distractions are shut out, it’s amazing how much time is available to strengthen our souls in God. Plan for time with God and remove distractions. It’ll be life-changing.
David is an evangelist and full-time teacher in the Churches of God, having worked in business & sales before he heard God’s call into full-time ministry. David is involved in youth work in his local Church of God in Manchester and the churches in the North West of England and is often called to use his musical gift to lead times of worship & praise at national and international conferences. He also enjoys drinking coffee in his free time.