Prayer is a privilege God has given to His children. Unless one belongs to Him, he cannot understand the value of prayer, nor obtain blessings therefrom. Hence, prayer is to those who belong to the Lord an absolute necessity but an unattainable blessing to those who do not.
I. Importance Of Prayer
Prayer is communion between man and God. Through prayers, we receive strength, help, comfort, and understanding. Unfortunately, many believers are unable to obtain these in their prayers. They have stumbled along the way and deviated to wrong paths. Some, lacking vigilance, fearful and weak, have been de¬voured by the Devil. They have all experienced spiritual rebirth hut failed to reach the blessed end. The reasons for their fall may he many but all of which may be linked to prayer or the lack of it. Lacking in prayer summarizes all the reasons for failure. Having lost the strength of prayer, spirituality plunges and this spiritual journey will inevitably end in failure.
Our Lord who was the Word manifested in flesh set the perfect example by totally relying on prayer. Before His ministry, He went into the wilderness and fasted and prayed for forty days and nights to obtain strength to do the will of Cod. The l3ihle records that Jesus regarded prayer as something indispensable in life. He was praying at all times, for all things (Mark 1:35, Matt 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 11:1). He often prayed for many hours or all through the night (Luke 6:12, 22:39-46). Thus, lie was able to overcome the Devil, perform great miracles, proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of Heaven, and finally sacrifice Himself. The saints of old also accomplished great tasks through prayers (Acts 13:3, 14:23). Many of the commandments and teachings of the Lord indirectly tell us to be vigilant in prayers in order to triumph in all ways (1 Pet 4:7, 5:7-8, Matt 26:41).
II. The Effects Of Prayer
Prayer is not ceremonial and believers must not allow prayer to become a ritual. Prayer gives motivation and comfort. One obtains joy and strength by it. It prayer brings neither encouragement nor strength. it is only a ritual. God delights in those who worship Him with a truthful heart (John 4:23). Regard less of the number of services a believer attends or the good deeds done, if they were done ritually, they were done not with a truthful heart. The Bible even tells us that there will he some ‘workers’ whom the Lord does not know (Matt 7:22). Their hearts are not linked to prayer, not knowing how to pray in the spirit, having not communion at all with the Spirit and, hence, not belonging to the Lord (Rom 8:9). There are also some believers who, although they were reborn and had communion with the Spirit of God, were unable to have living water flowing continuously from them. Their spiritual hit’ ended due to suffocation. Prayer is the breath of spiritual life; the source that keeps living water flowing. A lack of prayer means an absence of communion with God. The result is weakness and failure. Therefore, prayer is the key to a lively spirituality and strength in daily living.
III. Criteria Of The ‘Prayer’
The prayers of those who are pleasing in the sight of the Lord are effective. The Bible records, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas 5:16) because ‘tile eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet 3:12). The utterings of evil-doers are unworthy of the lord’s ears (Is 59:1-2). Prayers springing from lusts, for wrongful purposes, exhibiting self-righteousness and hypocrisy shall be despised by the Lord (John 9:31, Jas 1:16-17; Jas 4:13, Matt 6:16). One who does not seek God whole-heartedly and pursue holiness (Heb 12:14) and is proud and unrepentant also will not find his prayers effective. Praying with truth and faithfulness brings much fruit and edification, and by it one finds favour with the Lord. On the other hand, one who does not place high regard for prayers and does not want to seek to pray effectively, will meet with failures and will not find the acceptance of God. Each and every believer, hence, should strive to eliminate the barricades between himself and God, that his prayers may have results and be heard by the Lord.
IV. Methods Of Prayer
Since prayer is the pouring out of our hearts before God, we ought to “be anxious for nothing, hut with thanksgiving, let our requests he made known to God” (Phil 4:6). But it has to be in accordance with the will of God. As long as God is glorified and we can he edified, we can make requests to Him. We can pray in tongues or intelligible words. Praying in tongues is uttering mysteries and although no one understands, the one praying is able to obtain edification, strength, and revelation (1 Cor 14:2. 4). Praying in intelligible words is praising (God, giving thanks or making requests to God. It is good to pray in intelligible words if the praying is not in vain repetitions or in lofty words which do not spring from the heart. But it is even better to pray in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance for we do not know how we ought to pray but the spirit makes intercession for us.
While praying in tongues. one must pray with understanding. One must pray for the church anti other people as well. We ought to strive for longer prayers. Do not merely kneel down as a ceremony or get tip before your heart is even at peace or even before any feelings are evoked. How does such ceremonial prayers, void of truthfulness and zeal, bring one to edification?
May the Lord move us to search our hearts as we pray before the Lord. May each of us pull down the barricade between man and God, clear the obstacles blocking the progress of the Church. For the sake of the whole Church, for the sake of our spiritual life, may the Lord help us to see our imperfections in prayers, granting us zealous hearts to build ourselves up with vigilant prayers..