Our preaching theme for the year has been faithfulness. We have examined what faithfulness is, exploring its roots in the character of God, as well as a study on faithfulness applied with the parable of the talents. We now want to turn our attention to applications in our theme. In Romans 12:12 NIV, we read, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” This morning we want to focus on prayer. Specifically, how can we be more faithful in prayer?
Prayer Is Talking to God
In Genesis 4:26, we read, “Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” Three generations after Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, we see that mankind began to worship God publicly. I think it is significant that the inspired text reads that men started to “call upon the name of the LORD.” This indicates man endeavor to petition and commune with God from some of our earliest days.
What is prayer? We may define prayer as “draw[ing] near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) to express our “heart’s desire” (Romans 10:1) to our Mighty All Righteous Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9).
In describing prayer, I like how brother Harkrider put it. He said that,
“Prayer is the language with which the creature addresses his Creator. It is the petition of the child to his parent. It is the cry of the spirit unto the Father of Spirits. It is the communication of humanity with Deity. It is the voice of faith speaking to the Author of faith. It is the desire of the heart expressed to Him who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Harkrider 1978, 107).
Breathing for the Christian
Praying for the Christian should be as natural and frequent as breathing is for our bodies. To put it another way, if you don’t pray, you won’t live! Regular and consistent prayer has always been characteristic of individuals who were devoted to God.
- Daniel was a man of prayer. “He continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).
- Nehemiah was a man of fervent prayer. “I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). He devoted himself to this fervent prayer for four months (Chislev to Nisan).
- In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presumed that kingdom citizens would be prayerful citizens. He says in Matthew 6:5, “When you pray…” v.6, “But you, when you pray…” and in v.7, “and when you are praying….”
- We read that the early church was “devoted… to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
Prayer should be a daily and frequent occurrence for the Christian.
The Model Prayer
There is a reason why the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Prayer does not come easy, although each of us has an impulse towards prayer. Therefore Jesus showed us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Let’s break down this prayer and see what examples Jesus has given us.
- Recognize God as God (Matthew 6:9 cf. Ecclesiastes 5:2). If we are to pray, we need to first recognize God as Who He is and approach Him with reverence, awe, fear, and respect for Him.
- Seek God’s will and His Goals (Matthew 6:10).
- It is okay to ask for physical needs (Matthew 6:11).
- Ask forgiveness, and in asking, we remember the need to be forgiving (Matthew 6:12).
- Seek God’s protection from spiritual threats (Matthew 6:13).
Suggestions For Growing in Our Prayer Life
We have seen what prayer is, its customary place in the lives of believers, and examined the model Jesus left for us to mold our prayers after. But, one may ask, how can I improve on my prayer life? How can I grow more faithful in prayer?
First, let’s go back to Romans 12:12 NIV “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” The word translated faithful means “to be steadfast,” it “denotes to continue steadfastly in a thing and give unremitting care to it” (Vine 1996, 44). Hence why the different translations render this word as “instant (urgent)” (KJV 1900), “steadfastly” (NKJV), “constant” (ESV), “devoted” (NASB95).
So, how does this tie in with prayer? We read in the New Testament that the early church was “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer” (Acts 2:42). The Apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The early Christians, by example and instruction, were a people given over to prayer. How can we be such people today?
- Personally, I need to have my habit of prayer. Not wrote prayers I say at bed or before meals but actual conversations with God. Daniel had a practice of prayer (Daniel 6:10).
- Instantly. Perhaps I need to stop saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and start asking, “Can we pray about that right now?” I think that would be a really good application of “pray[ing] without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- With others. In Acts 4:24, we read that after Peter and John were released from prison, they went to the brethren, and they “lifted their voices to God with one accord….” One of the refreshing things I experienced in Alaska was every time I was at brother Murdock’s home, and all the guests were getting ready to leave, he wanted us all to pray together before we left. We can grow more faithful in prayer with habits like that!
We can grow more faithful in prayer when we recognize its importance in our lives its immense power. We live in times where much prayer is needed, and I would encourage us all to make prayer like breathing in our lives.
Harkrider, Robert. “The Persons of Prayer.” Florida College Annual Lectures. Lecture, 1987.
W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 44.