Let’s agree that all true Christians pray.
Not trying to make you feel guilty – just trying to help you know if you are saved. Prayer is what Christians do, plain and simple. Jesus tells us in Luke 18 that the elect cry out to God day and night. So, one of the ways that you know you are a true follower of Christ is that you just naturally pray.
Paul wrote in Galatians…
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
– Galatians 4:6 (ESV)
Christians naturally pray on the fly through the day, whether it’s…looking for a parking space at the mall at Christmastime or…when a moment of fear comes as you think about your daughter away at college or…as the teacher says, “Put your books under your desk and get out a pencil and paper for a pop-quiz.” or…wanting for the words to say to your unsaved cousin at a Thanksgiving gathering.
We pray…we just do.
As J.C. Ryle, points out, you cannot be a Christian if you do not pray, because the Christian life starts in prayer…
“I hold salvation by grace as strongly as anyone. I would gladly offer a free and full pardon to the greatest sinner that ever lived. I would not hesitate to stand by his dying bed, and say, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ even now, and you shall be saved.’ But that a man can have salvation without asking for it, I cannot see in the Bible. That a man will receive pardon of his sins, who will not so much as lift up his heart inwardly, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, give it to me,’ this I cannot find. I can find that nobody will be saved by his prayers, but I cannot find that without prayer anybody will be saved.”
– J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer
So we pray…at first, and then throughout life. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and I’ve gotta…pray.
Now, that said, though prayers throughout the day are as natural as breathing, I have become convinced that as followers of Christ, we need more than just prayers “on the fly.” We need to have some time of seeking the Lord in a systematic way…every day.
I think that this daily prayer time is one of the main differences between a victorious Christian life, and a defeated Christian life.
Jesus modeled a “setting aside” of prayer in his own life (Luke 5:16), and we see it also in the prayer He taught His disciples: “Give us this day our daily bread.” But even more than that, I think that in setting aside a daily prayer time, we show that we value what our Lord values…that is, “importunity.” Importunity is a King James word that we find in Luke 11:8, translated also “persistence” (NASB), “boldness” (NIV), “impudence” (ESV), and most gloriously, “shameless persistence” in the NLT.
It is a word that is difficult to translate, but is best understood by the context: the story of the man who needed some bread and kept knocking at his neighbor’s door until he got it. Pure and simple, God values a “repeated coming”.
I think this is because in repeatedly coming to Him until He answers, we demonstrate faith, and God loves it when we show our faith. So I’ve always been encouraged by this quote (can’t find a source) based on a powerful story found in 2 Kings 13:14 – 20…
“Let it be said to his shame that he did not believe enough, so he did not obey enough. It is what happens in the secret chamber that determines the amount of victory we have in the actual battle of life.”
– Author unknown
So, what do you think? Will you consider joining me on a daily prayer time journey in 2012? To start, come up with anywhere between 10 – 50 things that you want to knock on heaven’s door for in the New Year, and then decide that you will come to God for them each and every day. I’ll be saying more about “how?” in days to come, but for now, how about just deciding to do it, by the grace of God?
“…if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:8b-10 (NLT)