E. M. Bounds starts his book on prayer by telling us that the world will never know the things that were altered through prayer – Elijah praying and God sending rain or the Ninevites praying and God stopping the destruction of that great city.
In contrast with E.M Bounds, John Keats (1795-1821) in his poem The Eve of St. Agnes, which is the coldest winter day in England, tells of all the disaster that landed on a particular family because the family chaplain froze to death in the cold chapel.
In conversing with various business people in the community, one of great statements is that they are appreciative of prayers offered on their behalf. When I ask if they pray, they tell me that they appreciate that other people are praying for them.
Even sometimes when people call the church office and ask for prayer, I often offer to pray while they are on the line. The answer is often, “You do not have to pray now, you can pray later.”
In contrast with these examples, it is so fantastic to see the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ coming to him and asking Him to teach them to pray. As a result of their request, the Lord Jesus Christ taught them to pray what we know as the Lord’s Prayer.
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I feel that on this side of heaven, one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us is the gift of prayer. It is that opportune moment to communicate with God as you begin, end, and throughout the day. It is this reality that the author of the song, I Come to Garden Alone, captured when he wrote, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me that I am his own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”
Prayer is not something that only clergy do, but we probably bear some fault because we have professionalized prayers to the extent that from time to time our parishioners tell us, “I wish I could pray like you.” However, God does not desire professional prayers, He desires His children everywhere to pray without ceasing. Prayers are not only for the supra-spiritual things, but the everyday, even the mundane things.
Paul writes, “I want people everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer.” Learn to pray when you open your eyes in the morning, learn to pray before you start anything, and learn to pray for power, vision, and wisdom. Learn to pray when things are finished. Learn to pray when you are by yourself in the presence of God. Learn to pray when there are hundreds of people around you.
Do not be embarrassed to pray. Do not professionalize your prayer. Let them be real, authentic, from the depths of your hearts, for everything in your life as you share yourself with the one that loves you all the time – Jesus Christ, your Savior and Lord.