Nothing is more fascinating than prayer.
Through prayer we have direct access to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The very thought is extraordinary. And we get a person, not an answering service.
Through prayer we have the incredible privilege of influencing history and impacting eternity. When we pray, things happen that would not happen if we did not pray. Of course some will say, “But what about predestination? Wasn’t everything planned by God before human history began?” Yes, but did you ever stop to consider that prayer was probably the main ingredient in the programming of human history? God knew whether we would pray even before the whole process began, and His answers were predestined into our lives. Human history is woven around the prayers of His people.
Through prayer we have the privilege of penetrating the veil that separates us from that invisible world of darkness, where we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers. The invisible world is just as real as the visible world, even though we are not presently equipped to see it. If God respects ungodly authority structures in the visible world, we can only suppose that He does the same in the invisible world. If there are obstacles in the visible world that require a great expenditure of effort, is it not also true in the invisible world?
If there is anything indispensable for the Christian, it is prayer. In the Scriptures we are commanded to pray without ceasing. Look at these references: 1 Chronicles 16:11, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 55:17, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11: 5-8, 18:1:7, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 1 Timothy 2:8, 5:5.
In view of these exhortations, we should need no further reason to make prayer the dominant activity of our lives. Though prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Christian experience, the Bible gives us some glimmers of light about its indispensable place in God’s dealings with His creatures. As we pursue these insights we gradually realize God’s intervention in our lives is limited by our willingness to invite Him. God respects our freedom. If we are content to try to be our own god, He allows us this in- dependence. But He is pleased to reveal Himself and His power to those who make prayer their life principle.
Prayer is the means of infusing eternity into our lives. It is the means God has given us for rising from the kingdom of this world, which is in the hands of the enemy, and living in the kingdom of heaven. It is the means of transferring ownership for our lives, and all they touch, to our Lord and King. When we assume the role of god, we rule over a pitifully small kingdom. When we take our place in Christ at the right hand of God, we move our lives into His great plan.
What happens when we pray? Prayer is more than saying words. When we pray in faith, believing, forces are set in motion that would stagger our imagination if God caused the scales to fall from our eyes.
When we pray, God hears. We can pray at anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. We can pray kneeling or standing, sitting or walking, eyes open or eyes closed. Every time we pray in faith, aware that God is there and that He is listening, God hears (Psalm 55:17).
When we pray, God decrees His answers. Read a few of the Scriptures promising answers to our prayers: Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7, 18:19, 21:22, Mark 11:24, Luke 11:13, John 14:13, 15:17, 1 John 3:22, 5:14. When we pray, God decrees His answer. And the Word that He decrees will not return to Him without accomplishing its purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
When we pray, God sends His angels as ministering spirits. God has many ways of answering our prayers.
His angels are ministering spirits, sent to minister on behalf of those who are heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). How many angels are without employment because Christians are not praying?
When we pray, God opens doors for ministry. Unless the Lord opens doors, our efforts are vain. When He is able to enter the doors of our churches (Revelation 3:20), He is able to open the doors of ministry (Revelation 3:8). When He opens doors, no man can shut them. Prayer is our only means of opening doors (Colossians 4:2-4).
When we pray, God fills His servants with courage. Prayer is the means by which we put on the whole armor of God. Paul asked for prayer so whenever he opened his mouth, words would be given him so that he could fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20).
When we pray, the Spirit brings conviction to sinners. The Holy Spirit fills His people with power—so necessary to confront the forces of evil (Acts 1:8). The One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The Spirit of God convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
How to Pray
There is only one way to learn to pray— it is to pray. Prayer is a skill that takes practice, just as is true of all other skills. Cultivating a God-consciousness might be a struggle at first. If you are willing to persevere, “continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12), both you and others will feel the impact.
“Praying always with all prayer and sup- plication in the Spirit, and watching there- unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18 KJV).
Editor’s Note: Tom Julien is the equipping pastor at the Winona Lake, Ind., Grace Brethren Church, and director emeritus of Encompass World Partners. He has authored several books, including The Three Princes (BMH Books, 2011).