There are many examples throughout the Bible of people who made prayer a huge priority in their lives. Throughout Scripture we see from them, the direct results and amazing benefits of a life devoted to seeking God in prayer.
Anna was a prophetess, a widow, and 84 years old at the time Jesus was born. She’d spent her life at the temple in Jerusalem, praying and fasting, day and night.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of parents and babies had crossed the threshold of the temple during those years. But this particular day was different. I don’t know if she sensed it when the day began, but when Joseph and Mary entered the temple courts Anna’s eyes locked onto one baby.
It was Jesus!
The Holy Spirit came upon her and she recognized that one baby out of hundreds to be the Messiah, the Son of God. And that recognition of Jesus inspired a Spirit of prophecy on Anna as she pointed Him out to the crowd gathered around.
It is how we recognize Jesus today.
I’m convinced the way we discover Jesus and His activity in our lives, in our families, in our churches or region, is by being men and women of prayer. That way when Jesus shows up, we will recognize Him and what He is doing in our lives.
Prayer is not man’s invention.
Prayer is God’s creation in order that His people might have an intimate, dependent, loving and passionate relationship with Him. God provided prayer as an instrument for that relationship and we partner with the sovereign purposes of a sovereign God best when we are surrendered to and moving in the priority of prayer.
If we want an intimate, passionate, loving relationship with the Lord, we must make prayer and the study of the Word a huge priority in our lives, both personally and corporately.
Jesus Himself set the example for us making prayer a high priority in His life on earth. As a result He could say that He did nothing but what God the Father told Him to do. He knew the Father’s will because He spent time with Him in prayer.
On one occasion, before selecting the twelve disciples in Luke 6, Jesus “…went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to Him and chose twelve of them whom He also designated as apostles.”
If Jesus, the Son of God, prayed before making decisions, how much more should we be spending time in prayer before making decisions on those things that confront us on a daily basis.
In Acts Chapter 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened after the 120 disciples had been praying together for ten days. Jesus had told them to return to Jerusalem and stay there until they had received power from on high. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit didn’t happen right away. But after 10 days of continual prayer, God was able to prepare their hearts to receive the power that would allow them to go out and preach the Gospel boldly, to heal the sick and cast out demons.
At the inception of the New Testament Church, the Bible tells us that the believers devoted themselves, glued themselves, to “the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” If these were the priorities of the New Testament Church, the Church of Jesus in America would do well to make these our priorities today.
I have had people come to me and say, “Pastor, we don’t need a prayer meeting. We don’t need organized prayer. I pray while I’m driving the car or I pray while I’m playing golf.”
That’s good. I pray when I’m playing golf too, only for very different reasons.
But if you don’t have a foundation of a time and place where you intentionally seek God in prayer without distraction, you are missing out on having that intimate, passionate, loving relationship with Him.
When you are anchored in a life of prayer, then your prayers, while you are driving down the highway or play golf, etc. are much easier to engage in because they are founded in a life of prayer.
Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
It’s so easy when you are pastoring a church to get your head turned by the latest fad that will help you fill all the seats in the sanctuary with people and increase your budget. But I believe that God is looking for a New Testament Church… a Church that moves under the anointing, impulse and power of the Holy Spirit through prayer.
Prayer is not easy! I agree!
Prayer is hard work and we can get weary in well doing after doing it for a long time.
But I pray that God will revitalize our strength, our faith and our tenacity so that we would not ever let go of God in the practice of prayer.
May I pray for you right now?
Would you re-energize us and energize the younger generations to be devoted to intentionally seeking after you in prayer. May we not just whimsically offer up some benign thoughts to heaven but may we call on the name of the Lord who hears and answers prayer. Reinvigorate our call to prayer as a people. Help us to be a house of prayer for all nations.