Years ago, pastors were asked to rate what they felt were their duties and responsibilities from the most to the least important. All of the pastors listed prayer as the number one item on their list. They were then asked to take the items on their list and rank them according to the amount of time spent on it. Shockingly, prayer which was listed as the most important thing for them to do was last on the list of amount of time spent.
To state the obvious, this is a huge disconnect and it is even more shocking when one considers these represent those in spiritual leadership. Since everything rises and falls on leadership, I have no doubt the numbers would be even direr if the questions were to be asked of laypeople in the church.
This is clearly a tragedy when we consider how Jesus felt about prayer. Jesus, being God manifest in the flesh didn’t need to ask anything of God in prayer since He was God. Despite this, He frequently spent quality amount of time in prayer and had much to say about this subject. Let’s take a look at this following Scripture verse:
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them (Mark 11:24).
Notice in the above verse that Jesus said “when you pray.” He did not say “if you pray.” In other words, to Jesus it was a given that Christians are supposed to spend times in prayer. It is simply an expected part of life just like eating, sleeping and breathing. I would like to ask you a question. If you ate, slept or breathed with the same regularity that you pray, would you be alive right now, or would you have died from starvation, suffocation or sleep deprivation?
Sadly, I suspect that the majority of Christians would be dead corpses right now if that were the standard. This is even more tragic when we consider what prayer actually is. Jesus said, “when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” This tells us that prayer is asking.
While I am all for praising God both in your mind and with your lips, that is nor prayer. If you worship Him by telling Him how mighty He is and that you stand in awe of how a holy and pure God would even allow us to commune with Him, that is a wonderful thing but it is not prayer.
However, when we go to God with our needs and reverently ask Him to answer our needs, He delights in hearing us. When I was a child I would often go to my earthly father with not just my needs, but my wants as well. He certainly knew my needs such as food, shelter and clothing, but it still made him happy when I went to him with my concerns.
Our Heavenly Father is no different than our earthly fathers. Prayer is the gift God has given us whereby we can ask things of the Creator of the Universe. Unfortunately, it is quite sad that more Christians do not take advantage of this wonderful privilege as a result of ignorance and laziness.