Prayer is one of the greatest privileges and powers for life. It has no parallel with regard to our relationship with God and its spiritual benefits to ourselves and those in our “orbit.” But it is also one of the most difficult and frustrating spiritual disciplines, so much so that many people simply cannot find the will to develop any patience or proficiency in prayer, nor the strength to persist in it. The result is that prayer, in many believers and in many churches, is minimalized, trivialized, or completely ignored.
The primary goal of prayer, contrary to popular opinion, is not asking for things and getting things, but “abiding.” Prayer is how we relate to God: We talk to Him about our day, our relationships, our tasks, anxieties, fears, and questions. In prayer we meditate on Scripture, mull it around in our heads, and let the Lord speak to us through the text and give us understanding. In prayer we think about what God is like and let His truths saturate us.
As we pray we will discover that our inner persons are being transformed and remade. We will find that the way we think changes, our attitudes will adjust, and we’ll get nudges about our behavior. God will strengthen us, guide us, and convict us. As we abide in Him, He will suggest to us what to ask for so that our wills start to conform to His, our thoughts to His thoughts and our ways to His ways.
Prayer is a constant affair, not just a few minutes set aside each day. As soon as we waken, we are talking to God before our feet even hit the floor. We can meditate on His Word while we brush, shower, and get ready. We can talk to God about our day as we drive to work. All through the day we fill our minds with Bible texts, talking to God about what is going on around us, and make requests as God leads.
It also helps to set aside part of each day just to meditate on His Word. Pick a verse or a passage (start with pieces of Psalms, but then branch out to various verses in Paul’s epistles), close your eyes and go over and over it, thinking about the words, phrases, and concepts. Let God speak to you through His Word, and let Him enrich your life. In the process you will end up talking to God about the thoughts in your mind, the anxieties in your heart, and He will reveal Himself to you.
This is no mystery. It’s what the Bible teaches us about prayer. What it takes is keeping God first in your heart all day and every day, and setting your mind on things above. It’s a commitment to know God and the power of His resurrection. It’s a devotion to His Word and to be found in Him. Abiding. Meditating. Acting in the power of His Spirit.
You will find that your life is transformed. You will discover true and daily spiritual power. You will know the daily presence of God in your life. You may even see the environment and people around you changing. It’s such a win-win situation, one has to honestly wonder why so many minimalize, trivialize, and ignore prayer. Nothing worthwhile is easy. If we dedicate ourselves to it, we will see the power of the Lord at work.