Are you married? Imagine for a moment what your marriage would be like if you and your spouse hardly ever talked to one another. What if the only conversation you had with your spouse involved just a few words that might be spoken over a meal or before you went to sleep? What if your few words of conversation involved the same old dialogue (ex: “Thanks for dinner.” “Have you taken out the trash?” “What is on TV tonight?”)? What if these same old conversations never lasted for more than a minute or two? What if days went by without either of you taking the time to speak to one another?
There is no way we would be able to tolerate this kind of communication (or lack thereof). But if we would not accept this in our marriage, why would we accept it in our relationship with God? Our relationship with God is supposed to be our most important relationship. Two thousand years ago God sent His Son Jesus to this earth to die on the cross. Through Jesus’ death, the penalty for sin was paid and those who come to God can pray freely to Him and trust He will both listen and respond (Romans 5:8-10; 1 Peter 3:12; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is an amazing privilege for the people of God. And yet, unfortunately so often it is neglected!
This is a problem with SIGNIFICANT spiritual consequences. A neglected prayer life leaves us disconnected and separated from God. How do we fix this problem? Perhaps the best approach is to study the prayer life of Jesus.
- Jesus prayed frequently. When we search the gospels we find numerous references to Jesus communicating with His Father. After miraculously feeding the five thousand, He prayed (Matthew 14:22-23). Early in the morning as He began His day, He prayed (Mark 1:35). As the news about His power began to spread throughout the world, He would often slip into the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:15-16). Before being transfigured on the mountain, He prayed (Luke 9:28-29). Before being arrested in the Garden, He prayed (Luke 22:39-44). Jesus teaches us that frequent prayer is absolutely necessary to nurture our relationship with God. It is an opportunity to pour out our hearts and share with God our inner most feelings (1 Peter 5:6-7). Next time we are wrestling with a big decision, problem, or have some good news to share let’s make it our first instinct to talk to God about the matter.
- Jesus made prayer happen. Jesus had a pressing schedule. He traveled many places teaching God’s word. He frequently debated and confronted His enemies. He trained His disciples. He constantly performed miracles to confirm His identity. It was not easy for Jesus to find the time and solitude necessary for prayer. But He always did it (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12)! No doubt we also have very busy schedules. But like Jesus we need to make prayer happen. We need to turn off the television and the phone. We need to put down the tablet. We need to work out a time for our spouse to watch our young children for a few minutes. We need to tell our older kids we are praying and not to disturb us for a while. Like Jesus, we need to also find a place of solitude for prayer (bedroom, quiet place in the backyard, go for a walk in the park, etc). Doing these things will take our prayer lives to the next level!
- Jesus prayed with variety. His prayers were not always the same. Sometimes they were lengthy and deep (Luke 6:12). Other times they were brief and addressed to one specific, immediate need (Luke 23:34). Like Jesus, our prayers also need to have variety. Sometimes our prayers can be short and specific (ex: praying for someone giving you a hard time on your job; praying to overcome a tempting situation you may be in; praying over your meal). Other times our prayers can be lengthy and focused (ex: your prayer when you wake up in the morning, or before you go to bed).
God gives us the privilege of prayer because He wants to be our friend. However, He does not force this relationship on us. We must decide that we want the friendship He offers. From Jesus we learn that how we prioritize prayer plays a huge factor in the decisions we make.
– Shawn Jeffries