Many parents of young adults have experienced the conflicting emotions involved in sending a son or daughter away to college. In those final hours before separation, parents tend to give “final” instructions like, “be careful, study hard and make good friends.
There will likely be one final instruction: “Make sure you call or text us every day.”
As a father of four grown children, nothing brought my wife and me more joy than receiving a phone call from one of our college-aged children. Even though we couldn’t be with them, we felt included in their lives and connected to them through those precious phone calls.
God the Father has essentially given us the same request. Along with spending time in His Word, which we discussed in the previous article, God repeatedly urges us to spend time with Him in prayer. Trust me — He listens!
Prayer is our way of developing dependence on the Lord, confessing our sins, and asking for the things we need. A thorough investigation of the four gospels reveals the example of Jesus as Someone deeply committed to the practice of prayer — regular, faithful, and intimate communion with His heavenly Father.
If I asked you how often you prayed today, this week, or this year, your answer likely wouldn’t be, “without ceasing.” But those are the words Paul used to encourage the believers in Thessalonica to, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This kind of praying resembles a “ceaseless conversation” more than just 15 minutes in the morning. You can have a “prayer-conversation” with the Lord while driving your car, walking the dog, doing chores or mowing the lawn.
Our access to the throne of God is available 24/7. We’re invited to come anytime, anywhere, for any reason.
There are three key factors to keep in mind as you talk with the Lord.
The first factor is to focus on the trustworthiness and faithfulness of God. Frankly, God doesn’t need our prayers to understand who He is and how great His works are, but the example of Jesus encourages us to verbally praise God and give Him glory through our prayer. Jesus began His prayer of example for the disciples, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” In other words, God the Father is exalted as ruling in the heavens, His name is set apart, unrivaled and holy (Matthew 6:10).
The second factor is to confess our sin to the Lord. Since God sees all and knows everything, even those sins you may think are hidden, confessing sins to God through prayer is a way to approach Him with honesty and transparency. Without that, our prayers are hindered simply because we’re not interested in communion with Him as much as we are in covering up our sin. In Psalm 51, notice the posture of humility David has toward God, the sense of loathing he expresses toward his sin and the hope and joy he recovers after asking God for forgiveness.
The final factor of genuine praying is total dependence upon God for provision. The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14b). By making personal requests to God, we showcase our dependence on Him and our trust in His sovereign supply.
The question isn’t, “Can I afford to take time to pray?” but “How can I afford not to pray?” Let’s make a resolution to start a daily conversation with the Lord, enjoying the joy and pleasure