CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Praying Life
By Christy Krenek
[God] himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Suppose you tried to gradually stop breathing. You could hold your breath for 30 seconds, then breathe for one minute, hold your breath for 60 seconds, then breathe one minute, hold your breath for 90 seconds, then breathe for one minute...and so on. At some point, depriving yourself of oxygen entirely would be destructive and deadly.
The consequences of depriving oneself of prayer can be just as serious. Prayer is a key ingredient in the divine-human relationship with God. Prayer is rooted in human need and divine love. When we pray, we personally meet with God. As Christians, God has already touched our spirit, giving us the right to approach Him in prayer (Hebrews 4:16). But, what would happen if a Christian decided to gradually stop praying?
Primary Signs of Deprivation
Any number of problems pertaining to health, relationships, finances, or safety can cause us to "gasp" for answers. Yet, through prayer we are assured of moving the hand and heart of God (Psalm 34:15; Isaiah 65:24; 1 John 5:14-15). As followers of Christ, we can confidently come before God's throne of grace and find help in times of need. But, if we stop praying ("breathing"), we miss God's presence working in response to our circumstances (unresponsiveness). We soon become blind to Jesus as the Light of the World (eyes no longer react to the light). We begin to show the first signs of prayer (oxygen) deprivation. When we neglect to express gratitude to God in our prayers, we choose to ignore the gift of life God has given us through Jesus Christ.
Secondary Signs of Deprivation
Our hearts are what keep us physically alive and spiritually active. A heartfelt prayer is spoken at our salvation (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus instructed us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Only God knows the true condition and desires of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 6:21). The heart is a reflection of our personality, intelligence, memory, emotions, desires, and will. The Holy Spirit, living in every believer, serves as an intercessor for every heart-felt prayer. The Spirit gives divine substance to every word that we breathe in humble prayer (Romans 8:26-27).
Since God seeks a relationship with His children, prayer opens up healthy communication with our Creator. Without prayer, we refuse to share with God all that our heart reflects. As with a lack of oxygen, lack of prayer also attacks the heart: anxiety (Philippians 4:6), discouragement (Psalm 5:1-3), vulnerability (Psalm 17:1-2, 6-7), and loss of faith in God (James 5:15-16).
Critical Signs of Deprivation
As Christians we are to reflect renewed, transformed minds (Romans 12:2). Our thoughts are to be focused on things that are true, noble, right, pure, admirable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). When an individual stops breathing, their brain is deprived of oxygen, resulting in loss of attention and poor judgment. Neglecting to pray stops Christians from focusing on the renewed things and on God for guidance and wisdom (Psalm 37:3-5; James 1:5).
Our pride — thinking that we are self-sustaining — can turn our attention away from dependence on God (Proverb 14:12). It's as if our flawed judgment is saying, "My brain can function without oxygen!" In truth, brain-cell death results in less than five minutes after oxygen disappears. In many cases, even when oxygen is again administered, the person remains in a prolonged vegetative state. Prayer confirms that we trust and rely on God's ways, not our own ways for direction. Without prayer, the Christian's life remains in a spiritually degenerative state.
Jesus Who Prayed
The incarnate Jesus — God in human flesh — continually prayed (Matthew 26:39; Luke 5:16; John 17:9, 15, 20). Jesus understood that continual communication with our Heavenly Father is indispensable. Jesus experienced temptation, exhaustion, persecution, betrayal, grief, pain, and death. Only through prayer did the Son of God find the strength and power to face every tribulation known to man (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15).
God always positions Himself to hear those who call out to Him with a sincere heart. Our prayers can be that of worship, thanksgiving, repentance, restoration (healing), or praise. God is attentive to our prayers because His honor, glory, grace, mercy, and trustworthiness demand a response. Just as we breathe with no hesitation, we are instructed to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) — in preparation for eternity (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4).
"What are the different types of prayer?"
"What can we learn from the prayers that Jesus prayed?"
Image Credit: Engin_Akyurt; untitled; Creative Commons
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