Two weeks ago, Pastor Keith exhorted us that in thinking about the future of Grace Bible Church, we should be thinking in terms of prayer — that a God-honoring church is a praying church.
Last week, we were given an example from Paul’s letter to Colossae of the kinds of prayers to pray, and how we should seek to live and act so that our lives correspond to our prayers:
- We pray to be controlled by the Spirit
- We pray to live lives worthy of Christ (and His salvation)
- We pray for spiritual fruitfulness
- We pray that we might know God
- We pray for strength to endure spiritually
- We pray for hearts that are always thankful
It should also be remembered that these prayers are not just what we pray for ourselves, but like Paul’s prayer, these kinds of prayers should be the content of our prayers for others.
Is this kind of praying really necessary? We often hear sermons about prayer, and we often experience guilt for our lack of prayerfulness. But is prayer genuinely essential in the life of the believer? Does Scripture actually teach that we are responsible to pray and dependent on prayer? Since God is sovereign and omniscient, then why is prayer such a necessity?
Consider just these few injunctions to prayer (and these are hardly the only ones; Scripture is crammed with examples and exhortations to pray, as this list reminds us):
We pray to be obedient to Christ (and to be different from the world):
“Pray, then, in this way…” (Mt. 6:9-13; cf. also vv. 5-8)
We pray because we have been unequivocally commanded to pray (and our prayers are not superficial or trite, but we are committed to the process of prayer):
“…[be] devoted to prayer…” (Rom. 12:12; cf. also Col. 4:2)
Our prayers are for all believers (including the strong and those who seemingly do not need prayer):
“Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers for God for me…” (Rom. 15:30; cf. also vv. 31-33 for the content of those prayers).
We pray as a means to fighting anxiousness — we pray and ask for all our needs, making these petitions with thankfulness to cultivate trust in God:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
We pray so that we might not be discouraged in tribulation and troublesome times:
“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are for your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” (Eph. 3:13-14; cf. also vv. 15-21).
Why pray? Prayer is a manifestation of obedience to Christ. It strengthens our souls. It unites and conforms our hearts and desires to God. It stimulates love for others in Christ’s body.
As we look back at God’s grace for 40 years of faithfulness to this church body, let us be emboldened to pray wisely for the years of ministry that lay ahead of us.
“Keep up daily prayer. Prayer is the bellows that blows up the affections, and a Christian is most active when his affections are most violent. Prayer keeps the trade of religion going. Prayer is to the soul as the animal spirits are to the body. The animal spirits make the body more agile and lively; so does prayer for the soul. That the motion of a watch may be quicker, the spring must be wound up. Christian, wind up your heart every day by prayer. Prayer fetches in strength from Christ; and when His strength comes in, it sets the soul to work. Prayer leaves the heart in a good frame, as the morning sun leaves a warmth in the room for the rest of the day.” [Thomas Watson, Heaven Taken By Storm.]