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On the Importance of Prayer

August 2002

Lord, sometimes we do not pray because we think our call is to action, and somehow we do not see prayer as action. We are called to work for the kingdom, and to work among people. If we can move people, create a sensation in our church, create an interest in God, surely that is enough. We are successful. We are admired. Thus, our personal relationship with God is not a factor in what we do. Thus, prayer is not a factor in what we do.

How sad, Lord, that we can work so hard in and for the church, and be accounted good and valuable people, and yet not pray. This attitude is the ruin of every ministry and of every call from God.

Teach us, Lord, that when we are in prayer, our power to do your will in this world is multiplied many times. We cannot keep our soul in harmony with you, O Lord, without much and constant prayer. No work we do, no sermon we preach, no routine we set for ourselves can keep us spiritually fit, unless we are often in prayer. Our lives grow gross and hard; our hearts grow strange and abnormal, if we neglect the practice of prayer.

Prayer refreshes our lives, keeps us in tune with you, O Lord, and in sympathy with others. Prayer lifts our ministry out of the icy depths of "professionalism," revitalizes our routines, greases the gears of everyday living with a divine anointing.

Of course, a preacher should pray. People expect that. But that is not enough. All God's people should be people of prayer, and the preacher should be above all a person of prayer. Perhaps "preachers" should be called instead "pray-ers." Help us, Lord, to pray first and preach afterwards and our preaching will be all the better for the praying.

But the kind of praying that revitalizes a ministry is not some meager little thing. It is not a little of this and that made up out of the leftover fragments of our time.

Real prayer is the best of our time, the heart and strength of our time. This is not to say that we will do nothing else but pray. Obviously as long as we are in this world, we must do many things, but what this does say is that prayer is the first thing, and the most important thing.

Therefore, O Lord, our prayer is that you will give us a new attitude toward prayer. Too often, our prayers are like the grace we say before meals. We pray for fifteen seconds and then eat for an hour. Give us, Lord, more of a balance between praying and doing.

Teach us more about that "effectual fervent prayer" that James spoke of. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.



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