Summary: Before we will give ourselves to prayer we must conclude that it is genuinely worth the investment. We also generally do what we plan do do. Is prayer in your schedule?
How to Establish a Consistent Prayer Life
(Fifty Days of Consecration #3)
I want to introduce the sermon this morning with a brief clip from the movie, The Passion. Jesus is in Gethsemane knowing that the hour of his suffering is rapidly approaching. He is praying and he has asked his disciples to pray.
The Passion (0:00:34 to 0:02:50)
Many of you know this story. Jesus has asked the disciples to pray and instead of praying they sleep. Can anyone besides me identify with the struggle these disciples had in being faithful in prayer? I’m glad the Bible records their struggles because it gives me hope. They eventually rose above their failure and became mighty in prayer. We see that in the book of Acts.
The question that we want to address is how we can enter into greater victory in this area of our lives. What is it going to take for us to develop and maintain a strong, consistent prayer life? I’m sure if great persecution broke out against Christians, or if we were experiencing some horrific problem we would pray more. But I don’t want to enter into it that way. I want to be a child of God who learns to come to his heavenly Father with all his needs and enjoy the interaction. I want to learn how to live in the presence of God and live in prayer. How can we do that?
We do it much the same way we do anything? It happens first and foremost because we decide to do it. One reason we struggle in this area is that we over-spiritualize it so to speak. We think that it’s going to happen some happy day when an outside force, maybe God, just kind of thrusts it upon us. But if that were reality, then why does God tell us to do it. The Bible is filled with commandments to pray. As a general rule, prayer is not something that happens to us. It is something we do by a choice of will.
Every Christian “wishes” he/she would pray more—enjoy it more—be more consistent in praying. We all want that. But wanting something is not the same thing as choosing something. I may want a new car. I may dream of someday having a new car. I may even go to the dealership and test drive a new car. But at some point I have to count the cost and “decide” to have a new car. One reason I have not chosen to have a new car is that I know when I choose that, I will have to give up having something else. So there is something else that I have in reality chosen over having a new car. I still “wish” I had a new car. But wishing has never gotten me one.
We all live pretty much with what we’ve chosen. It’s hard to say and hard to hear; but the truth is my prayer life and your prayer life is what we’ve chosen it to be. The good news is we all have the power to choose something different. That means we have right here this morning opportunity for a better prayer life if we choose to have one.
We enter into that the same way we enter into other things. How did you enter into the career you currently have? How did you enter into sports when you were in High School? How did you enter into your marriage? In every case there was a process of choice. What is that process?
1st We must conclude that it is genuinely worth the investment. We are rational being who have limited time and resources. The most valuable thing you have is your time. “Time is money” as they say. If you invest your time wisely you can convert that into money. It’s called a job. Every day we are faced with hard choices: how will we invest our limited, most precious resource (time)? Bottom line is this: all of us are investing our time where we have decided to invest it.
So the first question we must deal with is this: is it a good investment of your time to pray? The devil has a thousand different ways of suggesting “no” as the answer to that question. He will tell you that it’s really not doing any good anyhow. “Maybe somebody else’s prayers work—but not mine. I prayed for this and for that and nothing happened.”
Have you ever felt that way? Sometimes it comes to our mind in a more subtle way than that. But the devil is actively trying to convince you and me that prayer is mostly a waste of time. Why do you think he might do that? Perhaps it’s because the opposite is true. One way for me to gauge how much I have bought into that lie is to inventory my prayer life. I invest in what I think is a good investment of my time. So do you.