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Sunday, March 04, 2018

Pray at all Times (Eph 6:18)

In his discourse with his friends, Job speaks of the wicked who say to God, "Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?" (Job 21:14-15) We, of course, wouldn't be so foolish as to say such things to God ... would we?

Paul wrote, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess 5:16-18) That's a whole lot of superlatives. "Always", "without ceasing", "in all circumstances"; and it if you ever wanted to know what God's will for your life is, that's some of it plain and simple. Would you say it is a mark of your life that you are a pray-er, a person of prayer, a person who prays without ceasing, who is constantly giving thanks to God for everything? Or would you tend more toward the sense if not the outright question, "What profit do we get if we pray to Him?"

We are commanded to pray. We are to pray for the purpose of seeking God's face and repentance (2 Chron 7:14). We are to pray for the people around us (Jer 29:7). We are to pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2). We are to pray for our persecutors (Matt 5:44). Jesus prayed apart from His disciples (Luke 6:12), prayed with His disciples (Luke 9:28), and taught them to how pray (Luke 11:1-4). One thing He taught them was "that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." (Luke 18:1-8) And still, we tend not to be praying people. We tend toward the sense of "What profit do we get if we pray to Him?"

The most basic definition of prayer is simply "talking to God". Some might try to tell you that it changes God's mind; it doesn't (1 Sam 15:29). Some give the impression that it's our way to twist God's arm to get what we want or to make Him our "butler"; it's not (James 1:6-8; James 4:3). "So, if we can't persuade God to do what we want and if God doesn't always answer our prayer, what's the point? If God already knows everything and is all powerful and sovereign and will do what He pleases, why pray? Doesn't the Bible even say we do not know how to pray (Rom 8:26)?" Or, "What profit do we get if we pray to Him?"

The easiest answer is "Because He said so." Prayer is repeatedly commanded, so we are to do it. But it is also a means God uses to accomplish His will. So we pray for guidance and we pray for help and we pray for others and we pray for ourselves -- to overcome temptation, to be strengthened, etc. We pray for His will (1 John 5:14-15). We do not have, we are told, because we do not ask (James 4:2). So we pray. We pray out of gratitude. We pray to know God more fully. We pray to know ourselves more fully. Prayer doesn't change God, but it changes us. So we pray to enhance our relationship with God. We pray because He likes us to.

I don't pray enough. I need to pray more. Let's see ... what is God's standard for "enough praying"? Oh, yeah -- without ceasing. No, I don't pray enough. I suspect I'm not alone in that. I suspect that some of you might be in the same boat.
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto Thee will I pray. My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up. (Psa 5:1-3)

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