So many things in the Christian life are more caught than taught, and I do believe a healthy and biblical prayer life is definitely one thing that needs to be modeled. I did not have a great model for prayer growing up in an unbelieving home or in my semi-annual visits to church. When I was a boy, I was taught that prayer was closing my eyes, folding my hands, and listening as the Sunday school teacher asked God to make us behave ourselves and pay attention during his lesson. As a newly saved adult, I understood prayer was simply talking with God; however, having prayer become more than just a customary undertaking can still be a bit of a challenge at times for many of us.
Over the years of counseling, I have found that most Christians, if cornered on the subject, will admit their prayer life is nothing to boast about. I can understand from personal experience we often do not have passionate prayers unless something is on fire. Yes, you may receive that as literal or figurative, but that may depend on your current situation. I wonder if the lack of passion and precision in the prayer life of the church is because we have not been modeling it correctly or consistently. We talk about our men’s prayer meetings, ladies’ prayer meetings, saying grace before family meals and the annual week of prayer and fasting, but are we truly crying out to God moment by moment as we should? Have we foolishly relegated our communication with Jesus our Savior to these small windows of time?
Have we forgotten our precious advantage given to us through prayer? The immediate ability to pour out our life’s hurts and joys at the feet of our Loving Creator. Paul’s prayer life was, as he put it, an always event. “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints…” (Colossians 1:3-4) Paul said he was praying always. How could he say that? Is he serious about always, or is he just setting an unrealistic bar for us to reach? Think about a life without the modern distractions: no media, no internet, travel was slow and for the most part on foot, and life was simple. What would our prayer life be like if we just replaced all the media in our lives with prayer and then prayed as we went about our days doing the needful things like work, chores and family time?
With all the modern distractions in our busy lives, and there truly are many, we seem to need to have a wakeup call to help us start the engine of prayer. Sometimes it is a tragedy, yet maybe we just need a new revelation and understanding of the wonderful privilege we have in prayer. We can come to the throne of heaven any time and speak to the Almighty, Sovereign God of all Creation, about everything and anything. There are no limits to prayer, save the ones we create in our sinful minds. We must realize that God wants us to come to, and fellowship with Him; even in the little things, and most of the time, the messy things. Whether it be a need, a hope, a joy, moments of disappointment, a sin, a desire, or fear and anxiety. Our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us always. Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
You and I, without question, recognize daily the despair of this life. At times, life’s hurts may appear small and distant from our current moment and yet, some days we are overcome by it. Without the hope of heaven, we would be crushed. Prayer helps us set our gaze upon that which is greater, stronger, and unshakeable, our Great High Priest Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14–16)
Not only should we be bold in our prayer life, we should feel free to bring to God anything, at any time, as we break away from the cultural modes of prayer, to a fulfilling life lived in forever fellowship with our Jesus. Take comfort, look up, and set your gaze toward heaven. Know that no matter where, and no matter when, the God of Heaven wants to and will hear all your cries. Pray now, pray boldly, pray humbly, and pray always.