The Practice of Prayer
It is commonsense to say that prayer is crucial in the Christian life. Prayer is a must for anyone in ministry. Ministry without a consistent and deep prayer life will be misery. Strangely, however, it is not easy to meet with men and women of prayer in most Christian circles today. The rhetoric on prayer or prayer life abounds, but the culture of prayer seems to be deteriorating. How can we restore the habit of prayer in Christian life and in ministry? I personally think that widespread spiritual ignorance is the main culprit for our laxity in prayer life. The way we Christians perceive the world has become blurred, and we do not seem to realize what is going on in the spiritual domain. So we have to be awakened to the satanic reality which has deeply permeated the fabric of our earthly lives. If we look closely into our inner life, we will be surprised to find that we carry so many ungodly things in our heart and mind which affect negatively the way we think, speak and behave. Many of our families are dysfunctional. We hear stories of violence and conflict in the regional and global context every day. In essence, we live in a dysfunctional world, i.e., a fallen world. People are victimized by all kinds of satanic attacks on every front. Our lives could hardly be characterized by glory, holiness, power and freedom in Christ; rather, we are subjected to all forms of satanic bondage and oppression: hatred, depression, misunderstanding, sensuality, pride, fear, worry, diseases, divorce, conflicts, wars and many others. We are reminded every day that we exist not in the heavenly reality, but in the satanic reality.
Our life on earth is to be characterized as a good fight against the presence of this reality. If we really perceive the satanic reality as the cause of all sorrows (individual, familial, societal and global) in this fallen world, we may have a divine anger towards the evil power operating in our midst. If we really see that our fight is “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” we will be filled with a sense of God’s mission to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). If we see clearly who our adversary is, then how can we not pray to the almighty God, our heavenly father?
We need to pray to fight against ourselves to purify our heart, and to rescue ourselves from the rules of the flesh. Our struggle is to grow spiritually to be like Jesus Christ. Our aim in life is to restore the image of Christ in us. With¬out prayer, this fight against our flesh cannot be won. We also need to pray to help others be freed from satanic bondage. To function spiritually, pastors should become prayer warriors, because the nature of their job is spiritual. Pastors should go into a deep prayer life if they really want to rescue people from the devil’s schemes in their everyday lives. Some pastors talk about prayer as the key to church revival. That is not wrong all together. However, pastors should not consider prayer merely as a tool for church growth or a successful, powerful ministry. Pastors should spend many hours a day in prayer in God’s presence because they become troubled in their soul to see the pain and to hear the inner cries of their church members. If pastors are not troubled in their soul, they are in real trouble!
Let me share a few practical tips to restore our habit of prayer. First, we need to cultivate the habit of converting all our thoughts (monologues) into a dialogue with God. We may have to stop thinking and start talking to/with God in all circumstances. If we admit that God is here with us and hears even our meditations, we cannot ignore Him in our thoughts. At first, we may feel that we are talking to God without getting any response from Him, but as we continue talking to/with God, a real dialogue can happen.
Second, we need to cultivate the habit of asking God whenever we are to make a choice–big or small. God is the best counselor and it would be most natural for us to ask the all-knowing God for everything in our daily walk. We have to practice what’s written in Proverbs 3:5-6a: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him.” If God is real in our lives, our dependence on God should also be real.
Third, we need to cultivate the habit of spending regular hour(s) every day for private prayer. We know that professional golfers practice at minimum two to three hours a day to remain competitive in their games. Unless we maintain a few hours in prayer daily, our ministry cannot be competi¬tive in the spiritual battleground.
Moonjang Lee, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of World Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Here again is one of the most interesting articles on prayer that I have ever read! Although it is geared to those in ministry, I decided to post it again for anyone struggling in their prayer life and is questioning the severe necessity of prayer. I think this article will do the trick to snapping you our of your stupor.