But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 5:16
When my kids were younger they would pray about everything. They would thank God for the toilet and ask Him to fix their broken dolls. They were not shy about approaching God with any little thing that crossed their minds or happened in their lives. But it seems the older we get the less we bring to God. For how many of you does prayer seem to be reserved for dinner, crises, and maybe bedtime. I know I have been there.
Prayer should occupy a much bigger place in our lives, and we can see why in Lk. 5. There we not only see Jesus praying, but that this was his habit, and his need. We see him sneak away to spend time with his father on a number of occasion throughout the Gospels. He does this for communion with the Father, for strength, and even help. And if Jesus needed to pray, you better believe we need to all the more.
The place prayer takes in our lives really is a commentary on how we view ourselves, our circumstances, and God.
A person who values prayer will make it a prominent part of their lives because they understand that they can’t do “it” alone, whatever “it” is. They know they are not wise enough to make decisions on their own, and are not strong enough to handle the circumstances they are in without divine assistance. We will pray when we understand we are not spiritual enough to grow in godliness in our own effort. A woman of prayer is therefore humble.
On the other hand if prayer is not a major part of our lives we are basically saying that we don’t need God’s help. We believe we can figure it out on our own. It means that we are looking for answers, comfort, and strength somewhere else–in ourselves, in another, or in the world. A prayerless woman is prideful, and in a practical sense atheistic.
Prayer shows that we recognize our dependence upon God. It shows that we understand that God holds all the power while we hold none. That He has all the wisdom we so desperately want and that he will graciously extend comfort to those who are hurting, depressed, or confused.
Jesus, in his humanity, was not above needing help and comfort from his father. Here are a few observations:
1. Jesus took time to get away and pray even when there was work to do and people waiting for him. He had his priorities set (Mark 6:45-46).
2. Jesus was beset with temptations (Luke 4) and spiritual attack. He relied on his Father and The Spirit in prayer to endure hardships, suffer well (Lk. 22:39-46).
3. Jesus found grace in these times of prayer. It was during prayer that he found comfort, refreshment, and rest from the demands going on around him.
You have busy schedules, rough weeks, people who rely on you, decisions to make, spiritual warfare to engage in, and difficult circumstances to persevere through. This means you need to follow Jesus’ example and seek the Lord’s help in prayer.
But you are not simply called to imitate Jesus in all of this. The great gospel truth is the Spirit helps you to pray when words fail, Jesus prays for you, and when you fail in prayer you have his righteousness to cover you. So, why would you not pray?!
Let’s get practical here. If you are going to grow in prayer you need to know and do certain things.
Know that God always hears your prayers and warmly receives them through his Son. (Ps. 116:1; Heb. 7:25)
Know that God is ready to give good things to those who ask. (Matt. 7:11)
Know that God responds to prayer with the best possible response (even if that is the opposite of what we ask for).
Do set aside time to pray. Like Jesus, make this a habit. Even a few minutes alone to seek the Lord and his grace is enough.
Do take opportunities to pray with your family and friends. Occasions are more plentiful than we often realize. Is your friend hurting or scared? Take that time to pray with them! Are you feeling anxious or angry? Ask your friends to pray with and for you.
Do pray Scripture. Especially the Psalms. You will find direction and encouragement as you do this. Plus you have the added joy of hearing God’s word in the process.
Do use helpful tools. I like the Valley of Vision. It is a collection of beautiful, theologically rich and Scripture saturated prayers. You can use them as a guide, or even pray through them throughout the day.
Remember, God doesn’t only call you to pray. He invites you to pray. He offers you grace in praying. He accepts your imperfect prayers with great Joy for you are in Jesus, and in him you are perfectly acceptable. Your hope in life is not that you will pray more or better, but that God always hears you and is ready to help. Your hope is in God. So why not talk to him now?
“Pray at all times and on every occasion.” Ephesians 6:18
Looking To Jesus,