Prayer, Trust, Wait and Repeat
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6: 5-14 NIV)
In the passage above from Matthew we see and read about Jesus teaching the Disciples how to pray- the prayer that is said in these verses is known to us as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ and like me many of you probably learnt that prayer at school or at Sunday school when you were very young!
A question I have been asked time and again by friends who have no faith is ‘Why do you pray?’ An interesting question I think as people who have no faith or do not believe in God just don’t understand what prayer is all about! Importantly as people of faith we need to know the importance of prayer we need to understand why prayer is vital!
So I will ask you all the same question ‘Why do you pray?’
I could end this reflection there and await any replies….. But I want to share with you some thoughts on why I believe prayer is so important.
Firstly for me Prayer is not a ‘Shopping list’- We shouldn’t just be presenting God with a list of demands or requests- Whilst yes we can present our needs to the Lord prayer (Philippians 4:6) prayer is so much more than that!
We should pray because:
- Prayer Builds our Relationship with the Lord.
I believe that prayer is vital because it is a key vehicle to building a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. It is important to consider that our Faith is one that encourages a relationship with God; to put it simply God wants to be in relationship with us!- And like all relationships in our lives communication is so important. So many family relationships falter due to the lack of communication- So firstly start to build a firm relationship with the Lord by communicating with him!
- Prayer helps us to determine Gods will.
Prayer gives us direct access to God- and allows us to listen in turn to what he has to say to us. We see in Scripture that Jesus made decisions that would change history after seeking the will of the father. In Luke 6 we read how Jesus chose the twelve:
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
We see here that Jesus spent the entire night praying about whom to choose! And looking back it was a huge and vital choice as these men would be charged with carrying the word of God to the world- Thousands of years later the choice of these men still has an impact on us all as Christians; but the choice was made after determining the will of God in prayer!
- Prayer helps us to do Gods work on the earth.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours
Prayer has been described as the ‘fuel behind the work’. Anything we do for the Lord must be backed up with prayer if we want it to succeed. Prayer can and does have a massive impact on people’s lives even if they don’t know you are praying for them. I have seen startling transformations of people situations or lives that I believe have come about because of people praying for the individuals involved and the situations- as it says in the scripture above ask for it in prayer, believe and it will happen! From speaking to friends and colleagues who have been going through some difficult or troubling times even those who have no faith have acknowledged that in their situation ‘Something just changed’ and it all turned out for good- That is I believe the power of prayer allowing the Lord to impact on people’s lives!
- Prayer is an effective weapon!
Prayer is a major weapon in fighting the spiritual battle. Ephesians 6: 10-20 speaks to us about some of the armaments in the arsenal of God. It reminds us that our struggles are not against humans, but against powerful spiritual beings and forces in the “heavenly places” (the spiritual realm which directly influences the natural, material realm). The picture here is that of a war. Life as a Christian is not a playground; it’s a battlefield and we are all called to fight. While there is much beauty and love in the world, there is also a significant amount of hate and harm caused by people who are being influenced by the enemy- it is important to remember that the war for souls between God and Satan is fought with Christian co-combatants with Him.
We are instructed by Paul, an experienced soldier in this combat, to be appropriately clad and armed for our struggle. In this passage, he uses some of the most vivid imagery in the New Testament. Describing a Soldier of the day- we put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, loins girded with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).
Now, it seems we have a complete set of armour and weaponry. And if I were writing this passage, I would say, “Now get out there and fight the battle!”
But Paul does not say that. He waits until verse eighteen to get to the big guns of this arsenal of God -persistent prayer. He says: “With all prayer and petition pray… with all perseverance and prayer… and pray…”
In two verses, we are commanded to pray five different times. I think God is trying to make a point!! He is attempting to grab and focus our attention concerning prayer’s power in the defeat of Satan and his minions. We read in Corinthians 10:3-4: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
Prayer was and is a vital Weapon in the armoury of God and it has been seen time and again through history where prayer has changed the course of events.
During the unfolding disaster of Dunkirk his Majesty King George VI requested that Sunday, 26 May should be observed as a National Day of Prayer. In a stirring broadcast, he called the people of Britain and of the Empire to commit their cause to God. Together with members of the Cabinet, the King attended Westminster Abbey, whilst millions of his subjects in all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire flocked to the churches to join in prayer. Britain was given inspiring God centred leadership in those days, and her people responded immediately when this kind of initiative was taken. The whole nation was at prayer on that Sunday. The scene outside Westminster Abbey was remarkable—photographs show long queues of people who could not even get in, the Abbey was so crowded! So much so, that the following morning the Daily Sketch exclaimed, ‘Nothing like it has ever happened before.’ In its hour of deep distress a heart-cry from both monarch and people alike was going up to God in prayer. And that cry did not go unanswered. For very soon, at least three miracles were seen to happen-
- Hitler halted the German advance on Dunkirk
- A huge storm arose over land grounding the German Air force
- The Channel had its calmest conditions in a Century allowing the Small Ships to get across the Channel and rescue the Army!
Imagine the consequences of the nation not praying!?
In the world today it is even more vital to pray and although unlike Dunkirk we are not fighting a physical war- we are still at war! There is so much going on that not a day goes by without news of an attack or murder of hate fuelled crime. We need to lift up this world, this nation in prayer and fully engage in that spiritual battle- because if we don’t do it no one else will!
So I want to encourage you whatever situation you find yourself in, whatever battle you feel like you are fighting to give this a try- Prayer, Trust, Wait and Repeat……