The Advent Part 82
The fourth thing that all those who had been filled with the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly in was prayer. Absent prayer and absent continuing steadfastly in it, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and spiritual wellbeing are impossible.
I realize full well that in many a denomination and in many a church prayer has fallen out of favor, it has been relegated to the dustbin of antiquated and long expired practices, and if ever prayer is practiced it is done solely as a formality.
What many of our generation fail to understand is the paramount importance of prayer in the life of a believer. Although the Word does not encourage us to read always, or break bread always, it does tell us to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Of the four things that the primary church continued steadfastly in, prayer was the one thing that they were encouraged to essentially practice without ceasing.
Ephesians 6:17-20, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
If our prayer life is properly established, and if prayer has its rightful place in our lives, then all the other attributes that make up our spiritual life will be in their rightful place because prayer is the oxygen that animates our spiritual man. Prayer is communion and fellowship with God; it is us communicating with Him on a personal and intimate level. Without the connection we form with God through prayer, without the spiritual oxygen that prayer provides, life in God is impossible.
‘So what are you saying brother Mike that there are many within the church today who are dead, and who have no life in them?’
Unfortunately, that is exactly what I am saying. There are thousands upon thousands of ambulatory corpses within the church today, who go through the motions and the ceremony, who know when they’re supposed to stand, to clap, to sing along and to say amen, but who have no life in them, whose spiritual man does not breathe but is starving for the oxygen that prayer provides.
When we pray we must always be vigilant in our prayers, making sure that they do not become some empty formality, or some empty ceremony but that they are true and heartfelt and sincere before God. When prayer becomes a formality, it is as if it was never uttered, for God never hears it.
Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”
There are two things that Christ automatically assumed we would do as His followers. The first of these two things was pray, and the second was fast. When Jesus spoke of prayer as well as fasting, He did not say ‘if you fast’ or ‘if you pray’ but rather when you fast, and when you pray. He automatically assumed that we would practice these things, because He practiced these things and Him being our example, we would likewise practice prayer and fasting.
Matthew 6:5-7, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
Praying always, or praying without ceasing does not mean that we are to spend all day, every day on our knees before God, but rather that we ought to have our hearts open toward Him in perpetuity, that we possess a spirit of uninterrupted worship and prayer. Just as the physical body breathes in oxygen and then expels it without even realizing that it does, our spiritual man must be in a spirit of prayer throughout.
There are many facets to prayer, another of which is the fact that prayer is a weapon against the enemy and against the trying times through which we as believers go. Man’s need for God is expressed through prayer. It is through prayer that we cry out to Him, it is through prayer that we pour our hearts out to Him, it is through prayer that we express our love for Him, and it is through prayer that we worship Him. Prayer is not some dry and sad repetition of a handful of words whose meaning we fail to grasp, it is the pouring out of one’s heart in the presence of God.
If by the example of Christ we learn that we must pray, it is through Him and through the example He set while He walked the earth that we also learn how to pray.
Hebrews 5:7-8, “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
The Word tells us not only that Jesus prayed, but also how He prayed, and in this passage we see that He prayed with vehement cries and tears, and was heard because of His godly fear. Jesus poured out His heart to the Father, who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. Yes, God the Father heard the Son’s prayer, but the Father’s answer was no, that He might become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
God hears every prayer uttered with sincerity of heart and brokenness, but sometimes He chooses not to answer.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.