Many years ago, I had a dear friend who was a devoted prayer warrior. He had been faithfully praying as to whether he should continue his medical practice here in the US or move back to his native country of Zimbabwe to be near his family. After many months, I asked him if he had decided what he would do. Without flinching, he responded, "I haven't heard anything yet." At that moment, I was struck by the realization that there was a lot more to prayers than just saying them, and like “fire and forget” missiles, disregarding them - that prayer was much more than a resource we tap.
E. M. Bounds, in his book “Power Through Prayer” said, “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 . . . The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”
God has given us many ways accomplish prayer like: Personal prayer, Public prayer, Meditative prayer, Intercessory prayer, Prevailing Prayer, Prayer without ceasing. All these and more were given to us in order to facilitate a culture and life of prayer. However in 2005, LifeWay Christian Resources surveyed more than 1,300 evangelical leaders from around the world to determine what they perceived to be the "Top 10 Issues Facing Today's Church." Number one was Prayer: The need for more ongoing, passionate prayer in both personal and church life.
Although a 2005 statistic can seem outdated, I believe the same is true today. A high percentage of us are not praying. How is it possible to have so many methods and infinite resources for prayer and yet have such a high percentage of us not praying? What is in us that so neglects prayer?
Could it be that one of the reasons why some Christians don’t pray is because they have this tacit idea lodged in the back of their minds that prayer simply does not work. Many have become discouraged from lack of answers to prayer. They have become hopelessly stuck like an insect in amber and missed the lesson my African doctor-friend modeled before me - that prayer requires the unmistakable quality of persevering Faith. James tells the seeker to ask, “in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind”. James 1:6 (ESV)
If prayer isn’t working for us we might want to explore the possibility that we have approached God conceptually, not intimately. A Christian might have a theoretical idea about God through their knowledge of Biblical doctrine, and yet not have fellowship with God. It’s easier to learn academically the five points of “how to” then it is to encounter God through prayer. Charles Spurgeon spoke to this when he said, “As the flower is more lovely than the root, so is the experience of fellowship with the risen Savior more lovely than the doctrine itself” .
This kind of cold approach to God will turn what could have potentially been an intimate encounter into mere Devotions. Yes It is possible to have “devotions” and mistakenly consider it to be the sum of our commitment to God. In having devotions, we can put God in a box along with all our other boxes of responsibilities in life - Only taking out that box once a day or whenever needed. Prayer however cannot be contained by space and time, but takes in your whole being. A person can’t say I’m going to have “commitment or “dedication to God” because these qualities are continual states of being, not acts. E. M. Bounds defined devotion as “the particular frame of mind found in a person entirely devoted to God”.
The vacuum created by lack of intimacy with God will inevitably result in a substitute intimacy. Things like Work, Entertainment, ,family schedules, and social media will rush to fill the vacated space once reserved for God and us. Our modern technological devices. though not inherently evil, have in many cases become our intimate connection instead of God. Time, our only real coin of trade in this life, then becomes devoured by these proxy interactions.
Whatever reason a person may have for not praying, one thing is clear: It is more unnatural not to pray than it is to pray. Prayer is not only ingrained in our original creation when our first parents talked to God, but also in our Redemption.
“And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
Redemption has never been about the rescue, but about knowing the Rescuer. Seeking God intimately is the foundation to all other kinds prayer which remain fruitless without divine connectedness.
It is imperative that prayer become our center, our culture, and our life - not just another formality. As seeking His face sustains all other forms of prayer God has given us, it should always move us out of the Prayer Closet and into God’s mandate to reach the lost.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
Spurgeon, C. H. (1995). Morning and evening : Daily readings (November 22 PM). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Lk 18:1). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 17:2-3). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
Lou and Louisa Perez both grew up in New York City and met in the first Church Lou pastored in Schenectady, NY. In 1999 they started Destiny Christian Church in Niagara Falls with the vision of taking Church outside the four walls. Visit their website at www.destinychristianniagara.com.