Just about a year ago I attended a Prayer Summit in Los Angeles. I was blessed with commuting to and from the event with a long time missionary in the CRC, and his mother Lillian. When I say I was blessed to commute with them, I mean, I was truly blessed to just sit and listen to a mother and her son talk about story after story of how God answered prayer throughout their life and his experience as a missionary in the Philippines. Lillian was a woman of prayer and a prayer warrior! She is in her upper 80’s and after one of the sessions where the speaker challenged seniors to be a “Golden Aged Missionary and intercessor” she was re-energized with a new vision for her life. And she was going to be that Golden aged missionary. She was and probably still is a golden aged missionary and intercessor.
A few weeks ago, Brenda’s 97 year old Oma passed away. One of the things that came up during her funeral was how much she would always mention to us on the phone that she prays for us daily, and we know it to be true.
Prayer is another spiritual discipline. It is something that is difficult for us to do, except when we are in a time of crisis, and then it comes easy. Why is that? As Donald Whitney notes in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, “If we felt certain of visible results within sixty seconds of every prayer, there would be holes in the knees of every pair of Christian-owned pants in the world.” In this sense, it seems that prayer would be something in which we expect to get something in return. It would then make God out to be an ATM, something that we go to, in order to get something out of it immediately.
Is God meant to be our ATM? Or is there a lot more to prayer then getting from God what we want? Whitney points out that if Jesus needed to pray in his life on this earth, than we definitely need to be praying. Prayer is not meant to be a burden, or to make someone feel guilty if they don’t pray. But prayer is a conversation between a lover and a beloved. Whitney uses this illustration: (Side note: and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I REALLY like this book by Witney, you should look into it, cheap on Kindle on Amazon!) “My wife, Caffy, expects me to call her when I travel. But that expectation is an expectation of love. She requires that I call because she wants to hear from me. God’s expectation is that we pray like that.”
Prayer is an expectation from God. Not because it’s a burden, but it’s because he loves us and wants to continue our relationship together. If you love your spouse, our your child, or parent but yet you never had a conversation with them, how can you continue in your relationship? How can you express your love and receive that love from them as well?
Prayer as a discipline is hard because we are so busy. But as Paul calls us to “Pray without ceasing” he means that we should develop a lifestyle in which our life is saturated with prayer. That we are giving everything to God and communicating with him always. So when we are confronted with crisis, we know who we are crying out to.
Lillian and Oma are examples of people who “pray without ceasing.” It became a part of who they were and are. As we grow in our Christlikeness, we are expected to pray. Not just to get something out of God, but expected to pray out of love. It is a relationship of love and a desire to grow in that is how prayer helps us. I want to encourage you to devote yourself to prayer, so that your life will be a life of “praying without ceasing.”