I remember many years ago being asked to speak at my parents’ church and to fit into the preaching schedule as they were going through the book of Colossians – lucky me, I got to talk about the 2 most guilt inducing topics in the church – prayer and evangelism.
Of course, we don’t all feel guilt about prayer or evangelism, some of us have just gotten so discouraged or put off that we are calloused to the call. Here’s what Paul, the missionary pastor, expected of his congregations:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-
that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Can I suggest that we (the list comes from my own experience and errors) have believed dangerously wrong ideas about prayer that keep us from enjoyable times of interceding? Which of these have you fallen into?
1. Prayer is God’s slot machine. We put prayers in and hope that we get what we want out of it. Prayer is unpredictable but we just keep hoping that we’ll hit the jackpot.
2. Prayer is a magical language. We try to get our words just right, our theology perfect, use words we never use in conversation and even copy the inflection and hand movements of our favourite “power pray-ers”
3. Prayer is like yoga. We use God and prayer as a relaxation technique. Not that it isn’t restful, but that’s not the purpose.
4. Prayer avoidance. Many of us just leave prayer to the intercessors. We’re “not very good at it,” so we avoid it. We’re not convinced that it does much good even though we are happy to have someone else praying for us.
“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” – John Piper
Time has never been the most significant reason that we do not pray.
What if there was another reason that pastor Paul calls us to pray? What if this was more than a religious exercise and an opportunity to join God in his work? Prayer is the work that Jesus is doing right now, at this moment and he joyfully invites our voluntary partnership.
Song of Solomon 2:10 “My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”
– Jesus is calling you and me to rise up and do what He is doing
Hebrews 7:25 “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
– And Jesus is living to make intercession for us.
1. Stop believing disastrous things about prayer. Repent to God and move on.
2. Decide to dig in and ask God to help you enjoy prayer.
3. Schedule it. For today and tomorrow and the next day.