“We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. …What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and noble methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.” – E. M. Bounds
The Importance of Prayer
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
Prayer is communion with God. It is that act of going into God’s presence to be with him. It is bringing God and his resources into our earthly realities. It is drawing upon divine resources to influence human reality. It is breathing the breath of heaven. It is the master key to everything we have been called to do. Without prayer, our activities are empty, human and lack the breath of heaven. They are temporal and will never last.
In looking at the life of Jesus, I see a man who prays. If there is an aspect of his life that seems so conspicuous to me, it is his prayer life. It was his habitual practice to wake up early in the morning before day to go to a quiet place to pray. Often, he would depart from the people he was ministering to, and go to a quiet place to pray. Many times he spent all night in prayer. What is this thing called prayer that Jesus loved to do so often? What is in prayer that is so important that Jesus, the Son of God, spent a large portion of his life doing and encouraging his disciples to do? If Jesus, being whom he was, needed to spend so much time in prayer, do we not need to spend even much more time than Jesus in prayer? Why is prayer so important?
1. We get to know God through prayer. One of the most important reasons why we need to pray is that we get to know God better through prayer. Prayer is communion with God. Those who know God better are those who spend quality time in his presence. These are individuals who know the secrets and the heartbeat of God. It is not possible to know God when we are occasional visitors into God’s presence. It is not possible to know God if we are the type of Christian who just pops into God’s presence to say “hi” and “goodbye.” We cannot get to know God if we are the type of Christians who treat God as a “fire extinguisher,” using God for our ends. God reveals himself to those who really care; to those who are willing to pay the price of separating themselves often and long in order to seek him. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
2. We are empowered through prayer. Prayer is like charging your spiritual batteries. Many of you use a mobile phone. What happens to it if you continue using it and never charge it? The answer is obvious. The battery will run down and sooner or later the phone will stop functioning until it is adequately and fully charged. No matter how good or modern a mobile phone may be, it is useless unless it is charged. In the same way, we cannot afford not to pray. God renews our strength when we pray. No matter how strong or gifted you are, if you do not pray, you are on your way to death, destruction and irrelevance. No matter how large and demanding our ministry is, we should spend enough and adequate time in prayer. The task that has been committed to us by God can only be fulfilled by people who are constantly filled with spiritual life.
3. Prayer makes us dangerous for the devil and for the kingdom of darkness. There is nothing that is as dangerous to the devil as a Christian who prays. The devil will not bother with Christians who are lukewarm, prayerless and banal. They pose no threat to him. Praying Christians are the greatest dangers to the kingdom of hell. And the devil will do everything in his power to stop you or discourage you from praying. The devil loves those Christians who are too busy to pray. He hates those Christians who make time to immerse themselves in God’s presence. These are his greatest threats. Their presence cast out demons. Their words are like fire. They change spiritual realities around them because they pray.
4. Prayer changes us. Prayer not only changes situations and circumstances, but one of the most important reasons we need to pray is that God changes us in prayer. Jacob was a cheat and a deceiver and it was not until he really began to pray that God changed him. He was so afraid of meeting his brother Esau that he decided to set time aside to pray. He prayed all night and came out a different man. His name changed from Jacob to Israel. His destiny also changed (Genesis 32:24-28). Maybe you have struggled your entire life to be good but nothing seems to change. Prayer is the key. It will change you.
5. God does things in answer to prayer. God does answer prayer. The Bible says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:7-11).
Another verse says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:3). God gives to those who trust him to the point of asking him. God is able to answer your prayers even beyond your expectations: “Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). No matter what your situation is, take it to God in prayer. He is more than able to answer your prayers. He wants to know that you trust him, that you believe in him to the point of coming to him with all that touches you. It is his joy to answer your prayers.
6. Prayer involves God in what we do. When we pray, we invite God into our situations. It is like bringing heaven into earth. It makes eternal values real. The presence of God in any situation delivers, releases and builds. It transforms the temporary and earthly to become eternal.
7. Prayer clarifies our perspectives. When we pray, we receive wisdom, our perspectives are clarified and we are able to make wise and godly decisions. Prayer gives us an understanding of the spiritual powers behind activities and realities visible to the human eyes.
8. Through prayer, we are delivered from temptations. “And when he was at the place, he said to them ‘pray that you enter not into temptation’….And he said to them, why do you sleep? Rise and pray lest you enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40, 46). Many people have fallen and been defeated because they neglected prayer. Our enemy is at the business of weakening and destroying believers. Jesus encourages us to be in the place of prayer lest we fall into temptation.
There are many more reasons why it is expedient to pray. Prayer is God’s key. No matter what your situation is, God wants to teach you to pray. Are you willing to learn?