As a sophomore at the University of Illinois, I attended the 1984 Intervarsity Urbana conference. Sometimes you don’t so much remember the conference as the feeling you had there. That’s true for me and Urbana ‘84. I had been a Christian for about 2 ½ years, and I don’t think I had so much considered the needs of the world at that point in my new faith, but God used the time there to grip my heart with the need for world evangelization.
But what I remember more than anything else was the main speaker at the conference. His name was Eric Alexander, a Scottish preacher whose second of four messages was on prayer out of Ephesians 1:15 – 23. I remember him telling the story of asking a young lass in his church why she hadn’t been at the prayer meeting. She told him that she didn’t feel like praying. And his response (imagine a old Scottish preacher with a deep brogue): “Young lady, prrrrayer is not a glandular condition.”
And I remember something else he said in that message from 28 years ago. He said, quite simply, “Prayer is fundamental, not supplemental.” That struck me, and it has stayed with me ever since. You get the idea, I suppose, but let me spell it out.
We tend to think that prayer is a very nice thing if you can squeeze it in. It will make your day go a little smoother if you can find the time. It is supplemental, kind of like dessert after a fine meal. If you have it, all the better, but it’s not really necessary.
Ah, but that’s where we are wrong. Prayer is not dessert after the meal; it’s the meal. We cannot do without it. It is at the very heart of the Christian life, and yet massive numbers of Christians are convinced that they really don’t need to pray. They will do okay without it.
What a lie! Don’t believe it. Prayer is fundamental, not supplemental.