“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
The Bible makes it clear that prayer is to be one of the distinguishing marks of those who are disciples of Christ; the people of God are a people of prayer. And what is prayer? Prayer is both a privilege and a command. In essence, prayer is simply a conversation with God . . . a running conversation with God that should continue throughout the day, talking about anything and everything. That’s right — anything and everything!
Clement of Alexandria once described prayer as “happy company with God.” The Creator of the universe wants us to talk to Him about anything and everything; nothing is too big or too small. To be sure, there are some things in life that matter more than others, but there is nothing going on in our lives that doesn’t matter to God.
A way to connect
Prayer is the primary way for us to connect with God, whether we are in private or in public, whether we speak to Him silently or audibly. And all our prayers are offered in the Name above all names, the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:23) and in the power of His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26).
One of the most important things to remember about prayer is that it is so much more than merely presenting our petitions before the throne of grace, reducing God to the size of some kind of glorious genie who is ready, willing, and able to grant us our three wishes. Yes, we are invited — even commanded — to present our petitions to Jesus; we are told to come boldly into His presence, persistently asking, seeking, and knocking.
Prayer at the deepest level demonstrates that we believe with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, that Someone exists in the universe who is infinitely greater, more glorious, and more powerful than we are . . . His name is Jesus Christ.
Reorient our focus
Prayer reorients us in a Godward direction. When we look up at God, we stop looking in at ourselves and out at our circumstances. Shifting our focus upward helps us see that our God is at work in every set of circumstances, whether the sky is blue, the clouds are fleecy, and the sun is brightly shining . . . or storm winds are blowing hard against us and waves of challenge are washing over us. We begin to see a glory vastly greater than our own, the glory of the One who created us to play a role in His incredible story of goodness and grace.
One of the most powerful promises in prayer is found in the fact that there is something beyond the limits of our own little lives, our own little plans, our own little goals, our own little dreams, and our own little desires. If we reduce our prayers down to a self-centered and self-absorbed wish-list, we miss out on experiencing the blessing of this promise. “Wish-list praying” proclaims to the God of the universe, who holds all things together according to the counsel of His will, that I know what is best for my life right now, and I would appreciate it if You would get with my program, Lord, and make that happen . . . and sooner than later, please!
Citizens of His Kingdom
We are image-bearers of God, and we have been called to live in a way that expands the cause of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven; our prayers are to reflect our heartfelt desire to live as citizens of His Kingdom . . . not as citizens of the kingdom of this sinful world system.
Prayers that please God are prayers that surrender to God’s wisdom, submit to His will, and support His work in this world. When we look at life from God’s perspective, we are gripped by the fact that God does not need us, but He actually wants us to be part of His unfolding plan of redemption is this world.
God has given each of us gifts, talents, and abilities to utilize in faithful service that points others in His direction. We are never left to the inadequate and insufficient resources of our own strength, knowledge, and righteousness; He infuses all of it with His grace.
Our prayers are to acknowledge and celebrate this truth as we strive to connect others to God’s rescuing, transforming, enabling, forgiving, and supernaturally life-changing grace, which is available to all those who call on His mighty name moment by moment throughout each day.
Focused on the King
When we are focused on the Kingdom of God, we are focused on the King. Keeping our focus on Jesus keeps us from shrinking the size of our salvation down to the size of our individual lives. Our salvation is not about us; it is about Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and every aspect of our redeemed lives is to be used to expand His Kingdom. Our prayers should reflect the fact that we are instruments of both salvation and sanctification in God’s mighty right hand, and we are to gladly and humbly submit to His will for our lives.
How would you describe your prayer life lately? Hot? Cold? Lukewarm? When we keep the grandeur and glory of God’s story in view, we will spend more and more time in the presence of our Lord, praying in dependence on God, devotion to God, and delight in God. No one modeled this better than Jesus, who prayed early in the morning, late in the evening, and at all points throughout the day. May this be the confession of our lives as we spend our days in happy company with our God, who gave His beloved Son so that we can be in communion with Him for all eternity.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.
For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.