Top 3 Reasons Why We Must Pray

Top 3 Reasons Why We Must Pray

At the rise of the New Year, I spent much time in prayer, seeking our Lord’s direction for the upcoming year.  Three words kept repeating endless in my mind: Prayer, Passion, and Purity. 

  • PRAYER – we, the Church, are the House of Prayer.
  • PASSION – we are to pray passionately and persistently.
  • PURITY – we are to be pure because God does not listen to the “wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

I hope this year, the Church will be passionate toward praying persistently.  So, here are the top three reasons why we must develop an effectual prayer life.

     # 3 - We Are in a Spiritual Battle

The Christian journey is described in the Bible as a war between good and evil.  We are to be good soldiers in this holy and just war (2 Timothy 2:3-4).[1]  Our war is not a physical war where we fight with our neighbors using physical means.  Our war is a spiritual war.  We are fighting against the “spiritual forces of evil”.  As the Apostle Paul writes:

Ephesians 6:12~ 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

And the mighty weapon at our disposal to fight this spiritual war is prayer.  The Bible concludes this section on spiritual warfare with these words:

Ephesians 6:18~ 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints

Prayer is essential if we are to fight the good fight against evil and against a diabolical adversary. 

The disciples of Jesus did battle against a strong enemy.  However, they could not cast out this demon that had been inflicting a young boy since childhood.  The demon often tried to kill the boy by throwing him into fire or drowning him in water.  The only way to save and help this boy was to get rid of this insidious spirit that dwelled inside the boy.  The disciple could not do it.  They could not cast out this demon.  Jesus had to step in.  When the disciple asked Jesus why they could not have the power and strength to cast out this unwelcome demon, Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). 

Prayer is the weapon that we have in order to fight this battle.

Later, Jesus told Peter that “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31).  The Devil demanded permission to torment Peter.  The Power of Darkness had his radar locked in our Peter to destroyed him.  Nevertheless, Jesus encouraged Peter by telling him, “But, I have prayed for you …” (Luke 22:32).  “I have prayed for you …”  Amazing.  The best encouraging thing that we can do for people is to pray for them.  The best defense (and offense) that we have against these powerful demons is prayer.

Are we in a dark place?  Do we know someone going through dark times?  Prayer is the weapon that we have in order to tear now this darkness.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4~ For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Prayer is a powerful weapon because it is a divine weapon.

     # 2 - We Have Many Needs

Our life is a life of struggle.  The second law of thermodynamics says that all things go downhill.  Everything naturally falls apart.  Prayer is the glue that keeps things together.  Prayer is the oil that keeps all the clogs running smoothly.

We have real, legitimate needs.  And many times, things are out of our control because all things naturally fall apart.  So, instead of going to the One who control all things in prayer, we take matters into our own hand and make things worse.  The Bible says in James that:

James 4:2~ You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

With all the needs that we have, we should go to knees in prayer. 

By the way, we pray not because prayer works.  We pray because God works.  We pray because God answers prayer.

And the Number One reason why we MUST pray …

     # 1 - We are commanded to pray

This is the ultimate reason why we pray.  We pray because our Lord commands us to pray.  We pray because this is what Jesus wants all those who are called by his name (i.e. Christians) to do.

When people hate us and seek to insult us, Jesus commands us to “pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:28).  This is not a suggestion that we should pray.  This is a command that we must pray.

The Bible tells us to:

Colossians 4:2~ Devote yourselves to prayer …

And to:

1 Thessalonians 5:17~ 17 pray without ceasing …

Many Christians think that praying is an option for them.  They choose whether they will pray or not to pray.  They choose to pray if the feel like it.  Or they choose to pray if they believe in it.  But praying is not an option for Christians.  Praying is a command that we must pray.

And because praying is a command, to not pray is a sin. 

In 1 Samuel chapter 12, the sons of Israel committed a terrible sin by rejecting God as their King and wanting a man to be king over them.  So, they asked Samuel to pray for them.

1 Samuel 12:22~ 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”

What the sons of Israel did was indeed a sin that would incur God’s judgment.  They asked Samuel to intercede and pray for them.  However, the greater sin would be for Samuel to fail to pray for them.  And Samuel recognized this.  He told the sons of Israel:

1 Samuel 12:23~ 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you

The people of Israel rejected God by not wanting Him as their King.  Samuel was not about to reject God by not praying and interceding for His people.

With these essential reasons why we must pray, why not start praying today?  And on Sunday, why not join your Church during the prayer meeting?  And if your Church does not have a prayer meeting, why not start one?  Gather a few obedient people together and start praying for the Church.

See also other articles in this series Prayer, Passion, and Purity:

 

[1] 2 Timothy 2:3-4~ Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.  (ESV)

Three Effective Ways to Start a Persistent Prayer Life

Three Effective Ways to Start a Persistent Prayer Life

1 Timothy 2:8~ Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension ...

One of the marks of a healthy church is that the Believers in the church pray.  In fact, the Church is known as “a House of Prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17).  Yet, I often wonder how much prayer is being done in the “House of Prayer”.

I believe that there is a longing inside every Christian that desires for a persistent, passionate, purifying prayer life.  However, he just does not know how to start.  Or she starts her prayer journey, but quickly gives up and cannot maintain that persistent passionate prayer life.

If we want to have this dynamic prayer life, there are three simple things to remember to make our prayer effective.

     1.  First, keep the prayers short.

Most people think that prayers need to be long to be effective.  They read of spiritual giants who spent hours on their knees praying.  They recall that Jesus prayed all night during his ministry … several times.  And these long prayers can intimidate Christians from praying altogether.  Quite frankly, they run out of words to speak or time to invest in these prolong prayers. 

While it is true that there are times when long prayers are necessary, for the most part, prayers are usually short … short spirts of passionate prayers sprinkle throughout the day, as I would call it. 

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to prayer, Jesus taught them a prayer that lasted only a few seconds (Luke 11:1-4).  Yet it is the most powerful and poignant prayer ever uttered.  It is a prayer has affected and effected people in unimaginable ways.  Prayers do not have to be long to be effective.

The longest prayer in the Bible is Jesus’ prayer in John 17.  It is known as the High Priestly Prayer, and this prayer can be read in less than five minutes.  Prayers do not need to be long to be effective.

Jesus taught us to pray, not like the pagans who “supposed that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7).  As a rule of thumb, prayers should be short and spontaneous and concise.

How do we start to pray effectively?  How about start by praying one sentence a day.  Then next week, make it two sentences.  And then three.  The shortest prayer in the Bible are three words uttered by Peter … “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30).  And the Lord answered Peter’s prayer.

Prayers do not have to be long to be effective.

     2.  Second, keep prayers simple.

Another thing that keeps Christians from praying is that they think prayers should be eloquent … poetic, even.  When I would ask people to pray with me, I hear it so often, “I don’t know what to say.”  What they mean is that their prayer sounds childish, ineloquent, or unimpressive.  So, they do not want to pray.

But prayers should be simple … words flowing from the heart.  Prayers are petitions palpitating from the deep need of the heart.  They are simple words requesting simple needs.  How simple is, “Lord, save me”?  Yet, it is an effective prayer because Jesus answered his simple, desperate plead.

Jesus taught that “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7).  We do not need to chant or shake or even try to force tears streaming from our eyes, thinking that these are what endear us to God.  No.  Keep it simple, using simple words.

I recall the story of Elijah and the 450 priests of Baal on Mount Carmel.  The Battle of Prayer, if you will.  The priests praying to their false god, Baal, and Elijah praying to the One True God.  It was a test to see who would answer their prayers by sending fire down from heaven and consuming the altar of sacrifice.  The priests prayed for four hours.  They chanted.  They cried out.  They cut themselves.  They threw themselves in a frenzy.  But nothing happened.  Then, Elijah stepped up to his altar that he prepared for the sacrifice.  And he prayed two simple sentences … ONLY TWO SIMPLE SENTENCES.  “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God …” (1 Kings 18:37).  God answered his simple prayer and fire came out of heaven.

Prayers are short, and prayers are simple.  Keep it simple.  Use simple words.  Do simple things such as bow down or kneeing down or even sitting down.  Keep prayers simple.

     3.  Third, keep the prayers scriptural.

Another thing that keep people from praying is that they truly do not know the words to prayer.  There is a desire and their heart have a simple need, but they just do not have the simple words to express the simple need.  One last thing that would help in making prayer effective is to pray the Scriptures.

The Bible says that “this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).  On my phone, I carry a list of Bible verses that I use in my prayer.  I pray the Scriptures.  The Scriptures give me the simple words to pray.

When I need wisdom during hard times, I would pray, “Lord, the Bible says in James 1 that if anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of You who gives to all generously.  Lord, I ask for wisdom during this trouble times.”

When I interceded for the Church, I would pray, “Lord, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3 that Paul planted and Apollos watered, but You cause the growth.  So please grow your Kingdom for Your Name’s sake.”

Praying the Scriptures will not only give us the simple words to speak, but makes our prayer effective.

So, there you have it.  Three effective way to start and maintain a persistent, passionate, purifying prayer life.  1) Keep it Short.  2)  Keep it Simple.  And 3) Keep it Scriptural.  Enjoy your prayer journey.

 

See also other articles in this series Prayer, Passion, and Purity:

3 Things You Must Know About Forgiveness

 

Matthew 6:14-15~ 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

A Nobel Peace Prize winner once wrote, “Without forgiveness, there’s no future.” Without forgiveness, there will never be eternal life. Forgiveness is one of the essential teachings of the Christian faith. It weaves throughout the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation … from the beginning to the end.

Forgiveness is the reason why Jesus was born and came into this world. Forgiveness is why he gave up his life and died on the cross, that we may receive the “forgiveness of sins”. Jesus did all these things so that you and I can be forgiven, for without forgiveness, there is no future nor is there eternal life.

Even though forgiveness is the one of the core teaching of Christianity, there are so many confusions and misunderstandings about forgiveness. There are three essential things that we must know about forgiveness.

1. First, the reason for forgiveness is God

The reason why you and I forgive people who have wronged us is because of God. We forgive because God has forgiven us. The Apostle John wrote that “your sins are forgiven for [Jesus] name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). It is for his sake that we are forgiven. It is not for our sake. And because we are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, the Bible teaches that “in like manner” we are to forgive others. In other words, we forgive others for Jesus name’s sake and not our own.

One person noted that if we do not forgive those who have wronged us, we are digging two graves … one for that person and the other for ourselves. This may be true. Then again, we may only be digging a grave for ourselves. But, is that the real reason we need to forgive people? No, it is not. We forgive others because God has forgiven us.

One of my friends counseled a grieving person who was unable to forgive the party that victimized her. He told her that she was only hurting herself if she could not forgive this person. The anger … the bitterness … the resentment that were building up inside her only added more satisfaction to her victimizer and added more punishment to her soul. My friend told her that she must learn to forgive for her sake. That may be true. But again, is that the real reason why we forgive others? No, it is not. We forgive because of Jesus name’s sake. We forgive because God has first forgiven us.

Jesus put it this way in a parable that he told his disciple concerning forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35. A slave owed his King a great deal of money. He could not repay when the King asked him to give an accounting. So, he begged the King for time and mercy. The King graciously heeded his pleading and had compassion on the slave. The King forgave the slave all of his debt.

But that slave went and sought out another servant of the King who owed him very little money compared to the great debt he had with the King. The servant pleaded and begged the forgiven slave for time and mercy. But the forgiven slave showed no such favor to the servant. He casted the servant into prison. When the King found out, He was enraged and questioned the worthless slave, “Should you not have mercy on your fellow slave IN THE SAME WAY that I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33). In other words, should you not forgive the one that wronged you the same way that I have forgiven you?

The reason you and I forgive those who have wronged us is because God has forgiven us. We do not forgive because forgiveness benefits us (although it does). We do not forgive so that we could avoid pain (although it does). The benefits and the painlessness are just biproducts of the real reason we are to forgive. We forgive because of God. We forgive because Jesus has forgiven us. He is the reason why we forgive. We are not the reason.

2. Second, the purpose of forgiveness is relationship

The end result of forgiveness is to restore relationship. Most people think that forgiveness is about not retaliating or seeking revenge or wanting some kind of retribution. The Bible says that vengeance belongs to God and He will repay (Romans 12:19). Not seeking vengeance but letting God execute vengeance on our behalf is not forgiveness.

I had a friend who was so hurt that he took comfort in the fact that God would take vengeance on his behalf. He said that he had forgiven that villain who hurt him by not taking vengeance but letting God take the vengeance on that villain. Really? If that is a person’s idea of forgiveness, then please do me a favor and keep your forgiveness … I don’t want it nor need it.

Vengeance … Retaliation … Retribution … these are matters of justice. No, forgiveness is about restoring a broken relationship. When someone violates me or wrongs me in some way, my relationship with that person is broken. Forgiveness is to restore that broken relationship.

This is what Jesus did. He forgave us of our sins. We have wronged the God and He forgave us. But what does that forgiveness look like? When He forgave us, He restore us back into relationship with Himself. Forgiveness is restoration of relationship.

3. The way to forgiveness is repentance.

The last thing that we must know about forgiveness is that there must be repentance. Repentance must proceed forgiveness. If there is not repentance, there can never be forgiveness. A relationship cannot be restored if the person who had committed the wrong does not repent and ask for mercy.

Looking back at the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35, the slave asked for mercy and the King granted it to him. At first, the King was seeking justice for what belonged to Him. He granted forgiveness only when the slave asked.

Jesus had this to say about needing repentance before forgiveness. “If you brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).

There must be repentance before there can be forgiveness. Even God does not forgive until there is repentance. In the same way, we cannot forgiven until there is repentance.