24 • The Importance of Prayer
Someone once said, just as the body needs oxygen in order to function, so the souls of men need prayer. In a sense this is true, but only shows one side of the coin. We don’t need prayer to function; we need God to function! Prayer is just the channel whereby we receive the life and Spirit of God. It is our walkie-talkie, our cell phone, our tablet, whereby we connect to the life source which is God (Acts 17:28). Without talking to God, we would soon be estranged from Him and become useless in His kingdom. Just like a motorcar without fuel would be useless for travel. Some say prayer is the fuel of one’s spiritual life. The more you pray the better the chance of your being in close union with God. In one sense this is true, but it has a catch: God doesn’t just want us to talk and listen to Him and thereby know His will and plans for us from day-to-day; He wants us to DO what He commands and BELIEVE in His son, Jesus (Matthew 12:50; John 6:29). It is useless to pray without stop and after praying continue down your own path (1 Thessalonians 5:16; James 1:22-25).
It is good to have times of prayer, times when you are alone with God (Matthew 6:6, 7) where you can hear His voice and perceive His will for your life but be careful: God speaks to us mainly through His written words found in the Bible. No matter what you think you hear in your head concerning God’s will for your life, check to see if it corresponds with what God has said through the centuries through the Bible and through the true church (1 Timothy 3:15). Check it with the global church, your fellow believers in Christ (1 Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17) and with your own common sense.
God did not make prayer a means to becoming like a madman, running around doing things and saying things because of your own ideas and what you think He has said to you. The devil and his angels are deceivers and can easily mislead you if you rely only on thoughts in your head (Revelation 20:3). That’s why God has preserved the Bible for us over the centuries. We can go to it to check whether our thoughts are in line with God’s thoughts and whether our behaviour is in line with His commands and character revealed in His Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). We have a glorious MANUAL to put us on the right track when we have wandered off from the way to heaven. Psalm 119:105 states: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.’
Matthew 5:23 gives us another perspective on how to approach God: ‘…if you bring your gift (prayer) to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go your way. First reconcile with your brother and then offer your gift.’ Jesus also taught us not to use many words when we pray (Matthew 6:7; vain repetitions), as the unbelievers do, because our Father knows already what we are going to say before we ask (Matthew 6:6). When we pray, we can be assured that God will answer our prayer according to His will (1 John 5:14, 15) and for the good and glory of His Holy Name (John 14:13, 14; John 15:7, 8). Jesus said: ‘Most assuredly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you…Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full ‘(John 16:23,24).
Truths to consider: Jesus Christ prayed regularly to His Father and gave us a model prayer to pray. It is found in Mathew 6:10-13. Jesus said we must pray much and not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8). Jesus spent hours praying to His Father when He was on Earth. If Jesus needed so much time with God the Father, how much more we who stumble so easily! Some followers of Jesus say prayer is more about listening to God and thanking and praising Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Read: Acts 17:28; Matthew 12:50; John 6:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 1:22-25; Matthew 6:6,7; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17; Revelation 20:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 119:105; Matthew 5:23; 1 John 5:14,15; John 14:13,14; 15:6,7; Matthew 6:10-13; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.