We have been challenged to speak to God every day. Prayer is essential to the Christian and each of us should spend time daily in prayer to God. While prayers over a meal, a blessing, is good and should continue, our prayer life must become more intense and deeper. Like phone calls to a dear friend, our prayer time should be a moment we look forward to with fondness and anticipation.
Prayer is a Privilege
Anyone can say a prayer. A corrupt, immoral, impenitent man can call on God just like a devoted, humble man. Are their prayers equal before God? No. James says it is the prayer of a righteous man that brings results (James 5:16). It is the prayer of faith that works (James 5:15).
Conversely, the wicked have no such effective tool. Solomon said it clearly, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29).
Our prayers are both a gift to God and a gift from God. It pleases the Father when we pray and when we call upon him. But it is a gift he has given to his people; we can approach his throne in prayer.
Prayer Changes Us
When two people are often in one another’s presence they begin to take on the characteristics of the other. Think of two people married for 50 plus years. They have similar thoughts, similar goals and sometimes similar speech. Over time they adopt the habits of the other. When we meet God often in prayer we begin to adopt some of his characteristics.
The Bible teaches that we pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28). Jesus set the example (Luke 23:34) and his disciples followed it (Acts 7:60). Have you ever thought that by praying for your enemies you become a little more like Christ?
The Christian who spends time in prayer is changed. Because they acknowledge their weakness and thus ask for help through prayer, they are humbled. Because they desire their prayers be answered they conform their lives more and more to God’s will. They are changed.
We saw James 5:16 earlier that righteous prayer avails much. It works. See that the beginning of verse says it is a prayer for another. Actually James warned that prayers may not be effective when their purpose is selfish (James 4:3). John reminds us that only prayers offered in according with the will of God are acceptable (1 John 5:14). Even in the moments of his deepest agony, Jesus always subjected his prayer to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42).
So prayers from a righteous person which reflect the will of God are powerful. King Hezekiah was told to set his affairs in order because he would soon die. The king prayed to God and wept bitterly and God granted him longer life (2 Kings 20:1-7). Hezekiah was a righteous man whose prayer was within the will of God so he was healed. Would God have been evil had he not healed Hezekiah? No, not at all. God’s will and his knowledge are infinite. Like our knowledge is superior to that of our children so God’s knowledge is beyond our own. He knows what is truly good for his children and we can rest assured that he will give it to us. Our trust is needed.
As we face the coming days let us accept the challenge to talk to God every day. We will be the ones rewarded.