Prayer As An Insignificant Work
I have heard with all of the turmoil that is happening in our world over the past several months, that we need to do more than just pray, or that praying is not enough. I understand the frustration and the anger when we observe all that is happening, especially when governing authorities that God has established fail to act against evil, and it looks as if nothing is happening. We become disillusioned about the current state of the world, and wonder if anyone is going to remedy the problems we observe around us.
Need I suggest, for the person who holds to a theological worldview, prayer may be one of the greatest things a believer in Christ can do.
Why is prayer most important to the believer? Let us observe several reasons why the act of prayer is important to the believer below:
Prayer is God’s will for us to do: Paul, speaking to the churches in Thessalonica writes:
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-17 NASB).
God, desires us to pray to Him and offer various request to Him. God observes that prayer to Him is no small or insignificant labor that a Christian does, but it is a necessary work, that Paul tells us that we are to continually pray often.
The Creator of Heaven and Earth hears our prayers: This is the John’s confidence as he writes this:
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15 NASB emphasis mine).
To come to the Lord and petition for our needs, in accordance with His will, and He hears us is the confidence we can have when we pray. When we pray for those who are dead in trespasses and sins that they would receive God’s mercy, when we pray for daily needs throughout our lives. When we pray repenting of our sin. When we ask Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit, and give us the power to resist sins, He lends His ear to our petition. When we seek His wisdom in various matters, we petition Him to guide us by His Sovereign hand. This is not an insignificant work, because the God, who created the universe, all creation that we see before us, lends His ear to our request and by His sovereign will, answers them as He deems best.
Prayers bring the peace of God to guard our hearts: Paul writing to the churches in Phillippi tells them one of the results of prayer when he writes:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6 NASB, emphasis mine).
Paul makes it clear that for one to have their hearts guarded by anxiety by the peace of God they shoul pray. He gives the churches in Phillippi the command to pray, thanking the Lord for all He has done, and submit their request to God. The peace of God comes knowing that God has lend an ear to His Beloved saint, and will answer according to His sovereign will.
God makes the prayer of the righteous man effective: James, speaking to the believers in his letter says this about the nature of prayer:
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:13-16 NASB).
James wrote if there are those who are suffering from various afflictions, one must pray. If one is sick, they should called the elders to pray over them, and the one who faithfully prays will restore the one who is sick, and will even forgive sins because of the intercessory prayer of a believer. James stated we are to confess our sins to one another, and pray so that we may be forgiven and restored from the sins we have committed. These prayers a believer prays for the afflicted, and for the sick, and for the forgiven sinner, are effective as the believer petitions God in these matters.
There are many things that those who are believers in Christ can pray for. If a believer is afflicted and persecuted prayer is a comfort (Acts 16:25). Believers can pray for other believers to continually examine themselves in their sanctification (2 Cor. 13:5-9). Saints are to pray, and intercede for all men, especially the governing authorities (even those we do not like!) (1 Tim. 2:8). Believers can pray the saints would be enlightened to the truth of the word of God, and the believers destiny to be glorified (Eph. 1:18; Col. 1:9). Saints can pray for their elders/pastors to preach the gospel with courage (Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3). Christians can pray the saints have discernment (Phil. 1:9). Believers could pray the word of the Lord spread rapidly around the world (1 Thess. 3:1). Believers can pray that they behave in such a way that is honorable and holy (Philemon 1:6; Heb. 13:8). The body of Christ has been given the privilege to pray and seek petition from the Lord for all sorts of things under heaven. Praying is no insignificant work for the Christian.
Unless it is observed from the nature of the old Adam.
That old Adam, which is the sin nature that has came from our first parents and we have inherited, desires to keep us focused on this world, and its temporal effects instead of the world to come. Our sinful nature desires us to be convinced our prayers to God are not effective, or are unimportant. By observing all that goes on around us, our crooked nature wants us to think about ways we can “fix” it, instead of submitting to our Master’s prescription. Instead of making our petitions known to the sovereign God of the universe, and being confident of the of divine promises that are found concerning prayer, that old Adam wants us to rack our brain with what we can do. This assumes in very puerile way God either will not do anything about this, or He cannot do anything about this. Prayer in many ways effaces this old Adam in us. Prayer is important in our sanctification because it points us to the eternal, rather than the now. Prayer causes us to depend on the divine Creator, our heavenly Father, and His work in the world rather than ourselves.
All while the world rages with destruction, God stills offers sinners, who do not deserve His grace and mercy, the forgiveness of sins, and this is assisted by the act of prayer among His people. While the world is in chaos, the God of heaven and earth has given us this gift, as sinners who don’t deserve His grace, His ear and attentiveness to His saints as they pray. While the world spins into darkness, the light of truth that is emanated from His church, and this is done by the loving labor of prayer among His beloved saints.
Let us not be deceived by the old Adam that is still clinging to us. Let what we see around us strengthen our resolve to go before our Lord by His grace, and petition Him, sharing our discontent and anxiety. Let us be confident that when we offer up our prayers to Him, He lends His ear to us, and acts according to what He deems best for our sanctification. Let us be comforted by His sovereign will that one day (perhaps today!) our Savior will appear and gather all of those who believe and trusted in Christ. Believers in Christ do not pray to a genie that grants three wishes to those who have earned his favor. To see God as a genie, or “silent” as we pray is not to see Him rightly. God is the maker of Heaven and earth who has granted believers the privilege, and the gift, to kneel before Him and offer petitions and requests before Him, and trust He will answer them according to His will.
Let me end with a quote from Arthur Pink concerning the importance of prayer to the Christian:
Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!