When it comes to prayer

One of the most significant discoveries when we first come to faith in Christ is that God not only hears our prayer, but He also wants us to pray.

Time and time again, as the story of the Church unfolds in the book of Acts we see the emphasis on prayer. Such examples of prayer seen throughout the pages of the Bible demonstrate resolute trust and an unwavering dependency on God. The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and elsewhere Jesus makes it very clear, that we should not only pray, but also believe that our prayers will be answered. The apostle James at one point throws out the challenge, “You have not, because you ask not!” (James 4:2-3) It is logical! A clear indication when we are not encountering answers from heaven is that it is because there is nothing to answer; we have not prayed.

We are feeling the burden to pray again. One of the signs that God is going to do a great work is that he begins to stir up his people to pray for it. He lays a burden on a person here and a person there. He brings it back to their mind again and again. It stalks them. It drives them to their knees. Or it catches them on their knees.

When God aims to do a great work, the first thing he harnesses is the power of prayer. He starts by planting the spark of desire in a few hearts. Then through prayer he fans it into a flame. Then the flame of desire and faith spreads to others. Soon large numbers are on their knees imploring the great work. Then God acts. Then he pours down his blessing. God loves to do great works of redemption. But even more he loves to do it in answer to prayer.

We assume something when it comes to prayer. The main thing we never tell new Christians about prayer is not that they should do it. It is in the usual list of “now that you are a Christian you need to do these things…”, but what is not included, and something we are so very poor at in discipleship and mentoring, is how to actually do it.

We assume that the person who has been spiritually dead all their life until Christ gave them life, knows how to talk to God, and what they should talk to God about.

Simply telling someone that they just “talk to God” is not enough. Do they talk to God like they would to their friends, a parent, to royalty, to the police or to a criminally insane maniac? I intend to amuse, but the fact remains – how should I talk to God?

The best way is for the new Christian to be present at those moments that are private, socially inconvenient, where we pour out our complaints to God, where broken hearts prevail upon God’s tender mercy, and where we call out to the God that hears and answers prayer. We pray because our problems are God’s problems – we belong to the Lord! Our civilised impropriety demonstrates (wrongly) that we are alone in our fumble in the darkness, trying to find God.

The disciples witnessed Jesus at prayer often, heard him, joined with him, were berated by him and were the recipients of numerous encouragements to press through in believing, faith-filled prayer. The Son talked to the Father, and invited them into the intimacy of that relationship, not as an observer, but as a participant.

It is embarrassing, inconvenient but strangely essential and if we are to be radical followers of God, we have to show the ropes to others.

I think God would be pleased with such an approach. Call out to God with all your heart, and have a new Christian with you to see how God responds with grace and favour to your request as you cast your anxiety on Him, or make your requests known to Him.

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