As we've entered the first month of 2012, I've been thinking a lot about prayer and what my prayer life needs to look like this year and beyond. I don't know about you, but I far too often settle for lackluster, hurried prayers while I'm rushing off to do other things, and then I have the audacity to wonder why my prayer life overall seems lackluster.
We need to get more serious about prayer. The world's greatest untapped resource is not something like secret sources of crude oil beneath the surface of the earth or as-yet-undiscovered technology that could cure cancer, or anything like that. In reality, it is prayer. The world's greatest resource, which so many of us do not tap into as we should, is the heartfelt, intense, worshipful, and committed prayer of the people of God. Prayer is the greatest power we have, yet so often you and I do not pray, or we pray in a far too cursory way.
Christians worldwide love the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
They often stop quoting this passage at the end of that verse, potentially missing an equally groundbreaking promise 2 verses later. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." You WILL seek me AND find me . . . WHEN you seek me with ALL your heart. This is a tremendously powerful promise from a God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. If we will seek him with everything that is within us, exerting ourselves in prayer, not expecting it to always be easy, holding our hands to heaven, then we will find and come to know the heart of God. I don't know about you, but I want that more than anything--and I need my prayer life to reflect that.
This doesn't mean God always answers our prayers in the affirmative. I have prayed desperately for people, enlisted intercessory help . . . and sometimes God still says no. But if in praying we come to know the holy and loving heart of God, is it not worth it to pray with all that we are? I firmly believe that God is raising up a generation of people who are going to seek Him as if there is no tomorrow. I want to be a part of that generation, of that powerful movement that could shake life as we know it and compel us out of our complacency.
Yes, prayer really is the greatest power we have. It allows the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us, like a sweet, soft, compassionate rain. Or like a flood, a torrential downpour of blessing, depending on our needs at the time. It gives us holy boldness and holy opportunity to speak the truth of God's Word into people's lives. It allows Christ to saturate our hearts and our minds on a continual basis. It invokes God's favor and blessing on our lives. It reminds us that our victory is sure and our hope will not disappoint us. It offers us peace, and nothing in this world could manufacture the kind of peace that God gives. It is a peace about our past, present, and future; a peace about our relationships; and a peace about ourselves. It is this peace that authoritatively demands that fear flee from our hearts and our minds. God is already present IN our future, in a thousand tomorrows, and He fights tirelessly for us. He is on our side. Yes, he is on our side. Why would we NOT pray with all that we are for the blessing and power of God to cover our lives?
If you pray earnestly, with passion and authenticity, it is some of the hardest work I know of. Yet even so, all the more do we need to bring our needs and praises, our deepest longings and desires, even the groans and pain of hearts that long to see the kingdom of God come, before the throne room of God, placing our deeply-held desires in our Savior's nail-scarred hands and leaving them there. As Hosea 6:3 boldly promises, "Let us press on to know the Lord, and He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rain in early spring."
Pray without ceasing. You will never be the same.