The view above the clouds was phenomenal. As we entered it the encounter was a unique, almost sacred moment, the cloud wrapping me in a thick curtain of bright whiteness and almost whispering silence.
It was a moment of moments, a time when God was there and my response to the majestic view that affronted me as I broke through the cloud and saw the sea, the mountains, the beaches, the countryside and the villages all in one glance. Someone was with me, and it wasn’t just God.
The Turkish man that kindly took me on the tandem paraglider (at a price!) enjoyed the same view as me, but wasn’t aware of God.
I muttered under my breath to God, delighted in His creation, wondered at the spectacle, my insides churning with excitement at having escaped the clutches of the earth, and then, for a brief moment, knew what joy the birds of the air encounter daily.
I tell that story because we all live in the same mutual tension in life when it comes to the challenges that the Bible brings to us. The apostle Paul’s encouragement in Colossians 4:2 is an imperative; “Devote yourselves to prayer”. Other translations say, “Continue in prayer”.
Both translations are a challenge, especially to those who don’t pray! Devote yourself to it, continue in it. But why?
It is easy to see that we have distractions when we come to prayer; some like my paragliding friend are unavoidable (and sometimes essential in life!).
But prayer is essential because without it you just will not grow in God. The only way that you will develop intimacy with God is by coming to Him in prayer. It is absolutely essential that you devote yourself to prayer.
And so that it is not ambiguous, God specifically says so in His Word. He tells you because He wants you to demonstrate your dependence on Him by coming to Him, frequently.
Why should God speak to someone, and reveal His secrets to one who doesn’t even want to talk to Him?
Paul Cain told me about his prayer life in the 90’s – it amounted to six hours a day! I know that is beyond the scope of most, but I think most people when they finally arrive in heaven will wonder why they allowed themselves to live such short prayer lives.
If you are convinced that God is the who provides everything for you, protects you, directs your paths and upholds you – then it will be reflected in your prayer life. In effect, your prayer life is like a mirror reflection indicating the true state of your heart.
If you spend just brief moments in prayer your preaching and ministry will be just dull and uninspiring (even though you don’t realise it, the Church will).
You owe it to yourself to pursue this; no one will ever arrive in heaven wishing that they had spent less time in prayer. No one.
From the first week of creation where God would walk through the Garden of Eden with man, God has sought intimacy with mankind, by them talking to and with Him. Even at Pentecost, the gift of the Spirit could have been a multitude of things, but it was tongues – a prayer language! Jesus even took time to address prayer with His disciples telling them what to do, what could happen if they prayed (mountains moving, all things possible, healing, deliverance etc.).
Elijah heard from God that it was time for the rain to come, and went up to the mountain and prayed, and prayed and prayed. After the seventh time the answer to prayer had arrived. A cloud the size of a man’s hand had appeared on the horizon. Elijah prayed and God sent a rain cloud.
What do you need? What does your country, city, village or family need? Don’t pray just five times – give yourself to continuously looking to God in prayer.
It is almost as if in the DNA of the Bible God has written a secret message to mankind, “TALK TO ME!”.
Devote yourself to prayer and this time next year your life will be far different than what it is right now!