Summary: Before Easter is a good time to re-evaluate your prayer life. Do you practice the custom of prayer? It is the key to your spiritual growth.
Custom of Prayer
Please read along with me the beginning of Daniel 6- especially v. 10, where we learn about Daniel’s custom of praying. Read on for a few verses to see the trouble that praying got Daniel into. Daniel had a custom of praying. He was known for praying and people even knew something of his schedule for praying. It was a good reputation and was, wonderfully, the only kind of thing that unbelievers had to look at to find some devious way to get at Daniel. Peter tells us that if we’re ever going to have unbelievers criticize us, it needs to be over such as prayer, rather than over some breaking of decent laws of the society.
Do you have the custom of praying? How are you using that custom? What value does it have to your life? What value can it have to your life? What can prayer do for your life?
Today, in this season of self-examination and of recommitment, we’ll look at the entire structure of our lives, and see that prayer is the fundamental spiritual discipline for our lives. We’ll see that no other spiritual discipline offers as much to us, in our walks with God. We’ll see that prayer is key to our involvement in the kingdom work of our Father.
Heb. 11.6- without faith, we cannot please God; if we can’t please God, then there’s no possibility for salvation in our lives. Faith is vital to our lives. Since we’re involved with God, who is invisible to our eyes, faith has us looking through, what we can call, spiritual eyes, and perceiving what cannot be perceived through the normal and carnal mind.
Yet, Matthew 17.20- tells us that we lack faith even as big as a mustard seed. Disciples had failed to do some of the things they ought to have done. In their still unspiritual state, though, they lacked even the basic amount/volume/measure of faith to do something simple. Most of us don’t go around throwing mountains into the oceans, fortunately. Perhaps, we’ve learned how to better use faith than to do something foolish or showy like that. Or, maybe, we still lack faith. In either case, we know, too, that even faith is a gift of God that is granted by the Holy Spirit in our lives:
Eph. 2.8- faith is not something we ‘work up’ inside ourselves. It is something given freely to us by our heavenly Father.
So, we need faith to be in relationship with God; we don’t have faith ourselves to be in relationship with God; faith for this relationship is a gift from God.
So, what hope is there to have the faith that allows us into God’s presence? If we don’t have it inside ourselves and we’re not born with it, and if, even after walking alongside Jesus for some months or years, disciples didn’t have even a minimal amount of faith, and if we can’t work it up but must get it from God, how do we go about that, so we can, at least, begin?
Matt. 7.7 gives us an important key to the matter. Each of us must ask and we will receive. Faith, that is necessary to be in relationship with God, is something we can ask for. Faith that will increase our faith bank to even the amount the size of a mustard seed is something we can ask for. Faith, that is a gift from God, is a gift we can ask for. Time-and-time again, we’re told and encouraged to simply ‘ask’. This is one of the most fundamental things to ask for. Yet, I wonder how many of us spend much time asking for faith? How often do we ask God to increase our faith? How much time do we spend beseeching God for faith? Do we ever? Sometimes? Often?
In our lives, God wants a whole package. He is not simply looking for us to assent to Him; He does not just want us to say ‘yes’ to Him, and leave it at that. He is looking for more than belief. In one place, Jesus declared that even the demons believe and tremble, but it doesn’t do them any good. The reason is that there is not the action that needs to spring from the belief. There isn’t the willingness to change what they are doing in order to do God’s things. They want to do their own. They know that God is supreme. They know that God is light. But they are unwilling to change themselves and to change the side of their commitment or devotion. They are committed to overruling what God is doing.
For us, Christians, it is hard to be a Christian in mind but not in body, too. Again, we have passages that indicate that some might have ‘thought’ themselves Christians for years, but, in the kingdom, are told that Jesus never knew them. This is a passage that strikes a bit of godly fear into me. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be one who simply had the beliefs in my head- even in my heart. I want to be the whole package that God is looking for. That package includes works.