This past week I’ve been focusing a lot on the meaning of prayer in my life and how to pray effectively.
I’ll be honest. Despite growing up in a christian subculture, prayer is something I struggled with pretty much all of my life. Praying had always felt like a chore.
Every night I would attempt to pray through my special mental check list, while feeling absolutely bored and tired, eager to be done and over with the whole thing.
Then at one point I stopped praying all-together, and I stayed in that kind of spiritually dead state for about a year or so until just recently when God drew me back to Himself and gave me a new life.
Most of my teenage years, up until recently, were spent worshipping romance and being in love with the idea of love. I daydreamed, wrote, thought, read, and was absolutely consumed with the idea and feelings of romantic love. My life, my emotions, and my moods revolved around my latest object of obsession.
When I let go of everything I ever held dear and abandoned my life to Christ, my world flipped and suddenly all I could think, write, read, and talk about was Him. I was overwhelmed with a strong desire that consumed me and drove me to get to know Him in a deeper way, and that desire only continues to grow as I come to know Him more.
I am falling truly deeply head over heels in love with Jesus.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The thing is though, in order to love Jesus, you need to know Him.
You can’t truly love or be committed to someone you barely know. Just hearing about that person from other people and/or running into them once in a long while wouldn’t cut it. You’d have to know them personally. Like hang out, and talk to each other, do stuff together, etc. In fact, it would be kind of creepy to come up to someone you barely know and profess your love. After all, you don’t even know them. You might think you do, but you don’t. Not really.
Being in a relationship with Christ and getting to know Him, consists of three main things: reading His word, connecting through prayer, and responding.
If you simply think about it, any loving relationship is based on strong communication and commitment.
To have a deep relationship with another person, a lover for example, it’s important to keep in touch. It’s important to be vulnerable with that person, to trust them, to show affection and your love for that person by giving them the priceless gift of your time, and yourself.
For a moment, just imagine that you were given a chance to converse with a famous person. Like the president, or some famous celebrity. Most people would consider that a once in a lifetime kind of thing, an opportunity they would later brag about to other people as their bucket list accomplishment.
And then there’s God. Pretty much the most powerful of all beings to ever exist. In fact, He’s always existed. He is the King of kings, full of infinite wisdom. You’d think He has better things to do than listen to average nobodies like us. Yet He’s always there. He’s always listening. Always waiting to hear from you and me.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
Knowing this then, why is it so easy for us to often forget or even ignore the fact that in order to have an epic relationship with this timeless Creator, we need to pray. We gotta talk to Him, we gotta to keep in touch!
It’s that simple, yet for some reason a lot of us find our prayer lives so lacking. How sad!
Today I was struck with the reality of the urgent need for prayer in our churches.
I decided for the first time to visit the prayer ministry of a church I’ve admired for the past few years and I was super excited to participate in that prayer group and see how the prayer backbone of that church worked.
That church has about 3,000+ members.
The prayer group consisted of about ten people.
Let that number sink in.
I was the only young person there. The whole group consisted of faithful elderly prayer warriors. That’s it.
I’m pretty sure there are other churches out there that may have a more involved prayer ministry. My Slavic home church has wonderful prayer meetings full of dedicated prayer warriors.
But the sad reality is, the majority of people in church today do not give the power of prayer enough importance in their lives.
When I was on a short-term mission trip in Ukraine a couple years ago, we visited a well-known active church in Kiev, pastored by a former mafia leader.
It was a passionate church full of people with radically transformed lives. Many members had dark pasts as criminals, addicts, and broken people despised by society.
What one of the pastors in that church said has stuck with me until this day. He was preaching on prayer and said that the reason their church was so active and full of changed lives is because every single day throughout the week, people gathered in the morning to pray for at least an hour. And they still do this. Because they chose to believe and obey what God says about prayer.
“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 5:16
There is power in prayer.
Not only is it important for us to be personally engaging in constant prayer but we need to pray together as a church as well.
Prayer makes things happen.
It doesn’t change God’s sovereign will, but it changes us and it’s power gives strength to faith. And faith can move mountains.
The more I understand just how important prayer is, the more disappointed I am to see lack of it in some churches. It really is a tragedy.
As I made conversation with an elderly man from that prayer group, I couldn’t help but express my disappointment and concern. His reply was, “God doesn’t only look at numbers.” Despite the spiritual situation of their church, his faith and hope inspired me.
It also reminded me that few people choose the narrow road. It’s time to get out of the mentality of trying to conform to the crowd, to the majority. In the end it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing (or not doing) but what God commands us to do.