(Day 12 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)
Studies show that the key to any good relationship is healthy communication. If you ask a couple who have been married for 50 years what the key to marital success is, you will likely find out that communication is near the top of the list.
As relational beings made in the image of God, we all recognize this vital aspect of intimate relationships. J. Oswald Sanders said: “It is impossible for a believer, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God. Spend plenty of time with him; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him.”
Offensive praying: Just like conversations in a healthy marital relationship or a quality friendship, prayer should be frequent and natural.
First, how frequent should we pray?
1 Thess. 5:16-18 says:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
We understand this to mean that we should always be in the attitude of prayer. We should always have the lines of communication open with God. If I only spoke to my wife on a single occasion during the week or only when I need something it would strain the relationship. If I only call my friend when I need him to help me I probably shouldn’t expect to keep him as a valued friend for long. However, if I take the time and effort to be purposeful about engaging with my wife or friend I will soon discover that the relationship grows closer. God wants a relationship with us. He wants that relationship to grow and build. Pray without ceasing.
Second, how do we make prayer a natural part of our life and not a mundane task?
It didn’t take me long as a Christian to learn that if I did not set aside a daily time to pray, the busyness of life would take over and get in the way. To not prioritize prayer is to prioritize something else. At the same time, I also learned that when I emphasize a set time to pray, I have the tendency to begin treating it like just another item on my to-do list. I can fall into the trap of checking God off and forgetting Him. A task oriented approach to prayer can lead to neglecting the Lord throughout the day. Don’t give up though! Ask God for help. Like communication in a healthy marriage, by God’s grace, a healthy prayer life develops over time. Stick with it, always.
“Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God.” – Oswald Chambers
By Doug Hull