Have you ever really thought about the “privilege “of prayer? I know we’re always talking about the power of prayer, but we never put any emphasis on what a privilege it is to spend time in the presence of the Almighty God! What is prayer? It is speaking to and conversing with our Creator. Everyone can do it and SHOULD do it. What is breathtakingly inspiring is that God hears, is interested in and answers prayers! Prayer is effective; in other words, prayer from those sincerely responsive to God gets results. Now that’s a privilege! There are several words that come to mind when I think of the word privilege: honor, pleasure, joy, treat, etc. If you really think about it, when you bow before the Lord you experience all of those feelings and more. Sometimes when you call a friend they may not be accessible at the moment you need them; but God is never asleep or too busy to listen. There is never a bad connection or a bad time. You never get a busy signal or voice mail or get put on hold. You have unlimited free minutes—and hours. Jesus knew the importance of praying to our heavenly Father. The Bible gives us many cases of Jesus fervently and passionately praying to His Father, not only praising God but asking for help. Jesus clearly knew that God in heaven was the ultimate source of success in every endeavor. If Jesus Christ needed help from His heavenly Father, how much more do we? All the committed and faithful people of God in the Bible and in history have been people of prayer. In Luke 11:1 Jesus' disciples soon realized their Master's source of power. They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Anyone can begin to pray even before they have learned anything about prayer. God hears and appreciates the simplest of prayers. Jesus made it plain in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” It's noteworthy that in English the first letters of the key words “ask, seek, and knock” spell ASK! God wants us to grow in understanding and application of how to pray. I would say it’s like learning a new hobby, sport or activity, satisfaction and rewards increase with added knowledge and skill. So it is invaluable and priceless to read and understand the biblical teachings regarding prayer. We can gain much understanding and inspiration from many wonderful examples of prayers in the book of Psalms and throughout the Bible. Daily practice naturally leads to added proficiency and pleasure in prayer. I can personally attest to this! When Jesus’ disciples said, “Teach us to pray.” Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus began His lesson in prayer by giving them a brief outline of some of the most important and significant things to pray about on a daily basis; commonly called the “Lord's prayer. Notice Jesus suggested that the most frequent way that we are to address God is as “our Father in heaven.” We can and should have many relationships with God, which are revealed by the names and titles for God found in Scripture. But the most important relationship is that of OUR FATHER— an all-loving and “perfect” father. I personally believe all human beings can and should think of God as their Father since He is their Creator. And as their relationship with God becomes closer, that father-child relationship builds to deeper and more intimate levels. Praise God! So, how should we “walk in” this privilege of talking to God? Well, He wants us to come to Him as a beloved parent. We should feel confident, secure, understood, appreciated and loved in coming before Him. When we talk with our physical fathers, we are not repetitious or scripted; we don't use an unnatural syrupy tone or a monotone. And we don't use archaic antiquated language because we think it sounds more religious. Neither is this necessary with God. Our heavenly Father cherishes prayers offered with complete honesty and sincerity, even if they include respectful complaints ha ha. The prayers in the book of Psalms certainly portray candid honesty. I want to let you in on a little secret: When people pray nice words while thinking and doing contradictory things, they apparently think God can't read minds, BUT He can! According to James 3:9-12, when we use our tongue to “bless our God and Father, and [to] curse men,” our prayer is counted as hypocrisy. Imagining what God is like is relatively easy for someone who has had a loving and attentive earthly father. Admittedly, it is much more difficult, especially at first, for someone like me whose parental experience has been with an alcoholic, uncommunicative and absentee father. I had to make a major effort to learn what an ideal father is like and establish that picture in my mind's eye. Genesis 1:26-27 lets us know, of all God's creatures, human being have the unique and awesome privilege of being created in His image. The greatest benefit of this is being able to have a personal relationship with God. Throughout His Word, God repeatedly stresses the importance of right relationships. In fact, Jesus said In Matthew 22:35-40 that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your fellow man. Beginning with our creation, God has done many things to initiate a relationship with us. It is up to us to respond to Him and show initiative in nurturing that relationship with good communication. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Our prayers keep us connected to God. In John 15:15 Jesus said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Oh my, doesn’t that send chills up and down your spine? Here Jesus explained a crucial factor in true friendship;ongoing open and sincere communication. A true friend is someone you talk with openly and regularly. Hallelujah! God is the Great Communicator. He records in the Bible His revelation of everything we need to know about His plan for our lives. His Word gives us His worldview, the framework for a true perspective on life; past, present and future. Plus He communicates with us and guides us in other ways, by His Holy Spirit, through His Church, through other individuals, through circumstances and through experiences that He sets up. WOW!!! Now that I’ve shown you the “privileges” of prayer, will you groggily drag around thinking you are too busy? Will you lack time to pray? Honestly, we all make time for those things we consider privileged and most important. And we will accomplish more in the long run when we put God first. Hence we cannot afford to not pray. Prayer needs to be a top priority and a daily habit. My friend, let’s not let the wonderful privilege of prayer go to waste by not using it. Let's walk with God—obey Him and talk with Him—in prayer!
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, make me so mighty against the deadly undertow of self-reliance that I am never ashamed to trust your arm, like a child with his father, in every breaking wave. Make me so mighty in seeing and mighty in savoring the promises of your sovereign grace that in all my sorrows I might never cease to sing your praise. And Lord, make me so mighty against the powers of self-justification that I never lose the humility to repent and weep for my sins. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!”