When We Pray
Pastor Ian shares with us why prayer ought to be a primary pursuit for everyone who desires to grow deeper in Christ.
This past Friday a small but enthusiastic group of GBCers met for the very last time in our temporary church office to celebrate God’s goodness to His people and to plead for His on-going pleasure as we return our ministries to the new building at 17 Mattar Road.
In my own personal ministry, there are few things that lend me greater confidence than the knowledge that my ministry is being consistently undergirded by the ministry of passionate prayer warriors. In fact it gives me joy even now as I realise that some of you who are reading this note have been specifically prayed for on Friday!
It is my hope that as God’s people, we will increasingly be determined to be a church whose lives are informed and empowered through prayer. But, “Why,” someone might ask, “is prayer such a big deal? If God is sovereign and has already ordained all things, why should we even need to pray?”
Below is a short list of reasons why I believe prayer ought to be a primary pursuit for everyone who desires to grow deeper in Christ:
When we pray, we demonstrate our affection for God.
In the 17th century, Francis Xavier prayed, “O God, I love you, and not because I hope for heaven thereby.” Xavier’s affection for God was unpolluted by selfish motivation. His relationship with God was not a social contract in which both parties received some special benefits. He didn’t love God because of anything he might personally gain from the relationship and his prayers were not offered to inform God of the things he needed. They simply reflected his desire to talk with the One he loved.
When we pray, we acknowledge our redemptive partnership with God.
In 2 Corinthians 6:1 the Apostle Paul writes, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’” As we pray, we open our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit, who shapes and sanctifies us to be His ambassadors. We then know the joy of divine partnership—working together—with the God of redemption.
When we pray, we recognise that God is the generous giver, even of those things for which we have not asked.
Though the priest Zechariah was in the Holy of Holies interceding for God’s mercy on Israel, the Lord responded by saying, “your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…” (Luke 1:13). Zechariah was asking for one thing and God gave him something else. So, when we are praying, we are not doing so because an omniscient God somehow doesn’t know what we need, we are praying in order to place ourselves in a position to receive those things we don’t dare, don’t know, or don’t know how to ask.
When we pray, we confess our dependency on God.
Just as in our breathing we are demonstrating our dependence on oxygen, in our praying we are demonstrating our dependence on God. We are confessing that there is no part of life we can live without Him. There is no part of ministry we can accomplish without His provision. And there is no part of eternity we wish to endure without His presence. As we pray we joyfully celebrate the truth that there is nothing else in our lives—not our health, not our education, not our financial security or even our personal safety—that is more important to God than the intimate love relationship He desires with each one of us. This is why Paul wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I pray that each of us—from our pastors and elders, to every attender—will know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. And how He longs to hear from us!
I so look forward to seeing you this Sunday, as we open up Acts 12 and discover how when we pray, we can “expect the unexpected!”
The elders praying for power and provision for the Discipleship Seminars Ministry.