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Prayer is an integral part of a believer’s life. This is very true also with the Christian leader. Prayer reflects our theology, that is, what we really believe. If we do not properly spiritually develop as a believer, then our prayer life will be distorted.
There are many aspects of prayer. Each can be built up or underperform. Unless we have a proper belief, then we will not be able to properly lead.
True godly leadership is built on intimate prayer times with the Lord. The church can only go forward as much as it seeks the Lord in prayer. If we could righty pray, our societies would change in a short time. We just have not learned how.
It is for this very reason Paul warns us of our true enemy.
“Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
Now please remember we are not speaking of prayer as a ritual where a person is not aware of God’s presence.
Ritualistic prayers have nothing to offer.They ruin genuine prayer by having the believer think he is actually praying. Genuine prayer is a conversation with God. Below are numerous statements helping us further clarifying and define the true nature of prayer.
Prayer is two-way conversation between God and man.
Prayer reflects our trust in the Lord (at different levels). Think of the difference between a new believer and mature believer. What do I really believer about God and prayer?
Because of the direct contact with God in prayer, we need to come through Jesus before God. Are we so unconscious of God’s true person that we dare go into God’s presence apart from Christ? How do we come before God through Jesus Christ?
God is desirous of hearing from us. Many of us have Father’s who did not want to hear from us. We do not think that God really wants to hear from us except to report our obedience. We need to grow in our concept of God and prayer.
God treats us as His children and wants to hear our requests of what we need. Yes, the Lord knows our every need. But more importantly through prayer He is developing a deep and enriching relationship. He does not just want to hear our request but for us to realize how much He cares for us. We learn about God through our prayer times.
The Lord likes to hear us return thanks to Him for His good gifts which itself is a kind of prayer. Because prayer is relationship oriented, it is also a time to show appreciation. Think of the rude child who got what he demanded but never gave thanks.
If we properly understand singing to the Lord, we will see it as a form of prayer (think of the Psalms). There are Psalms that lead us through wonderful times of worship as well as confession or even during times of intense struggling and grief.
Confession or repentance before God are kinds of prayers. Many of us have not learned to bring our sins before God because we are afraid of rejection. We need to learn how to properly confess our sins and find that wonderful healing through the loving gift of Christ Jesus who died for our sins.
God creates needs in our lives so that we would regularly come before Him with our requests. These requests are a kind of prayer. He wants to develop a constant growing relationship in our lives and partly does this through answering our personal prayers.
When we ask the Lord to do things on behalf of others, we are beginning to enter the heart of prayer, that is, completing God’s will. We will be challenged with growing in our persistency as well as our own faith when we intercede for others.
Prayer is two-way conversation and so it also is the place for meditation. We hear from God and want to talk to Him about what He says. During these times of reflection upon God and His Word, we learn to discern His thoughts as they enter our own minds.
Prayer is the place we discern God’s voice, hear Him and then obey. It is wisest to make important life decisions in our prayer times so that we are less affected by the evil one. This is a special training many of us have never learned (and also the reason we do so poorly avoiding temptation). Satan infiltrates our spiritual discerning capabilities and interjects lies to get us to doubt and blame Him rather than to trust God.
Prayer at best is a spiritual discipline where we regularly engage the Lord and reflect on His Word. We cannot live on what we have eaten in the past, and likewise we need to regularly meet with the Lord. We must not delude ourselves on how a past experience or closeness with the Lord can substitute an ongoing regular prayer life.
Examine your prayer life over the last 2-3 weeks. What kind of theology do you really live by? What do you believe about God, His ways and His help in your lives? Do you really expect Him to answer? Do you think He will really speak as you meditate in His Word?
Let me provide you a few simple examples. On the one hand, they are not special. Just regular prayer requests. But on the other hand, they are very special. They are places in my life that God has provided needs and wants. He cultivates holes so that He can fill them.
I am teaching a parenting class. For several reasons we have not been able to arrange for sitters for the parents. There are about 30 in the class with about 12 children. Some unbelievers are among them. We need to pray and seek God to provide. Just today, we heard about how God would provide for tomorrow. Praise Him! Some people might not realize how God creates holes to fill them, but He does so that we can grow closer to Him. Sometimes we are rather oblivious to His ways.
I worked hard (spent several hours) working on making a podcast with a computer program. For some reason the export was not working. Last night I just gave up. This morning it was not working. But meantime I asked the Lord to help me. He did. He reminded me to check for an update. I did and after the update, I could nicely export without a waste of several hours of work. Praise God. Again, God is intimately involved in our lives. We just do not often recognize it and keep struggling on our own.
Here is a more extreme example which seems to be getting common for me! I recently went on a mission trip training pastors and laymen in two African countries. I was due to leave March 17th. Provision for the trip, however, had only trickled in. We had only 5% of all that was needed 4 weeks prior to our departure. Thousands of dollars needed to be raised. We prayed as usual and God brought some in. He even brought a bit more in after I left. Not surprising we had some huge numbers come out for one marriage seminar and costs escalated. Upon returning, I find that we had only $400 over our total needs of over $10,000. God is faithful.
Write down some of your examples of answered prayer.
Prayer then becomes the very mean for God to bring His thoughts and guidance to our lives as well as for us to consciously express our needs, wants, hopes, confession and thoughts to Him.
The importance of these things in a Christian's life shows the importance of prayer.