“No man is greater than his prayer life. – Leonard Ravenhill
“A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.” – Leonard Ravenhill
Prayer is the most unexplored and unused area in the Christian life, yet it is one of the most significant things a Christian ever does. Prayer is communicating and relating with God, the God who knows us best and loves us most, and should be taken to heart. God loves us and is not going to punish us if we don’t talk with Him, but we cheat ourselves of what the relationship is supposed to be and is capable of being when we don’t take advantage of the opportunity He has provided for deep and regular communication. Some of us avoid prayer because we feel like it is complicated and difficult. But it is conversation with God and can happen at any time.
Why is prayer so significant? Dutch Sheets says prayer is vital because, “Things happen when you pray that don’t happen if you don’t pray.” What are those things?
When you pray, you get to know God. It’s impossible to know someone if you don’t spend time with them. Prayer is an opportunity to spend time with God. John 15:15 records Jesus saying that He no longer calls us His servants, but calls us His friends. Talking with God develops a deeper relationship with Him. The deeper the relationship becomes, the more time you want to spend with Him. Any healthy relationship takes time and conversation. My wife and I have developed a wonderful and deep relationship over the years because we’ve taken time to communicate with each other what’s really on our hearts. We attempt every week to find a time and place to get away from the phone, the office, and any other distractions. We take that time to share our hearts with each other. The most difficult moments in our relationship have come when we haven’t taken the time to communicate. The same is true with prayer. It takes time to really communicate with God. And it takes time for Him to communicate with us what’s deep within His heart. It’s how we get to know Him.
When you pray, you drive away darkness. Sometimes we forget just how powerful prayer is. We aren’t fighting against something imaginary. Our prayers are fighting against spiritual battles; pushing against the spiritual darkness. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Satan wants to destroy us, but God wants to bring us closer to Himself. Satan wants to overwhelm families and cities with darkness. Prayer drives out the darkness and brings the light.
When you pray, you change. We often think prayer changes God’s mind. We say, “Prayer changes things.” That’s not the way it works; however, prayer changes us. Talking with God, getting to know Him better, gives God an opportunity to change our hearts to be more like His. Our habits and lifestyles change. Our hopes and dreams and challenges change. We change from self-focused to other-focused. We no longer live a self-centered life, but one that is focused on others. Prayer changes us inside out.
When you pray, you get protection. Paul said, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). How did he get that confidence that he was protected? Conversation with God.
When you pray, walls will come down. Sometimes we are faced with devastating circumstances and feel we have nowhere to turn. We feel shut down and shut out. It may be between us and others, incredibly difficult circumstances of life—whatever it is, we are at the end of our ability to make anything happen. Praying brings God and His power to work for you. Even if the breakthrough doesn’t happen that day, even if the walls seem just as high as they were, you will have a consciousness that you are not alone. You will receive the strength and the grace to carry on. Eventually you will receive an answer to your prayers, or a peace about waiting longer. Prayer will make some of these the best experiences of your life.
When you pray, you get wisdom beyond your own. James said that when we lack wisdom, we should pray—ask the Lord—and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Prayer will give us wisdom to make good choices and trust God no matter what the answers to our prayers are. We get the understanding to see that prayer is not a shopping list, but it is communication in a real relationship with God.
Yes—things happen when we pray that don’t happen when we don’t pray.
Repeat After Me starts this weekend. This is a 6-week series that will look at the Lord’s Prayer. It promises to be a series that will change your prayer life.
We are encouraging everyone to be in a small group during this series, as we will provide a video curriculum on prayer. If you are not in a group, you can find one HERE or check with your campus to see when and where the open group is being held. I would challenge you if you are not in a group to join one for the 6 weeks. I promise it will stretch you, and you’ll be glad you did it.