Summary: Relevant principles for all believers that would help in developing and sustaining a vibrant prayer life
That prayer is important and is powerful is a statement that I would like to believe most of us would agree on.
Yet despite this firm belief, we all, at one time or another, or perhaps even now, struggle to maintain a strong and healthy prayer life.
In fact, truth be told, of all the areas in our lives, our prayer life is one area that we seldom, or even avoid to talk about, as believers. Perhaps for some, it may even be an area that we ourselves do not wish to think about.
We all ask our brethren to pray for us, as regards sickness, travels, jobs, exams, finances, yet I wonder how many of us had asked somebody to pray for your struggles related with your prayer life.
As you may have seen, today’s message is entitled “Jesus and Prayer”.
We will be looking at two very familiar passages in the Bible that do not necessarily talk about prayer, but a closer study, would actually point to relevant principles to help us develop and sustain a strong, vibrant prayer life.
Before we dig deeper, let me just highlight some important truths about prayer:
It is not a skill to be mastered
This is one trap that we as believers can fall into. How many times have we tried some formula in order to liven up our prayer life? We can easily be misled into thinking that a certain pattern, a certain way (head bowed, eyes closed) make a good prayer. And because there are so many times we struggle in our prayer, in fact just the act and the will to pray can be a struggle in itself, we are discouraged, we lose heart and we do not pray.
It is not a work or a duty that we just fulfill, it is a gift of grace
God loves candour / honesty
12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
It is a privilege granted to every believer as an assurance of an audience with God in His throne of grace
It is our “umbilical cord” to God that sustains us in our growth to become more like the child God wanted us to be
The world teaches us to be “independent”, but God wants us to be “dependent” on him
14Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)
Having laid down these truths, let us then look at the first passage that I pray would help us have a new perspectives in our prayer life. Please turn our Bibles to the gospel of Matthew 11:28-30 where we read this invitation from our Lord:
Jesus is Inviting Us...
“28Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In prayer He wants us to...
Come just as we are (v. 28)
o We don’t have to be “spiritual” to be able to pray, God wants us to come just as we are, burdened at times, joyful, able to express our doubts and anguish. He wants us to be honest with our emotions and thoughts.
This is a very encouraging truth. In our daily lives, whenever we receive invites to gatherings, corporate affair, even family affairs, it is not uncommon for us to ask if there is theme or a dress code for the event. I do believe that it is only once have we declined an invitation simply because we feel we do not have what it takes to dress up for the affair – either we don’t have the requisite outfit or that we will not be comfortable with the required outfit.
Find rest in Him (vv. 29-30)
o The reality of life is that, we are stressed not because there is so much work to be done but rather we don’t find rest from our toil. We don’t find rest because we do not come the source of rest, we do not seem to be getting anywhere because we do not even step out in faith to meet our Saviour and our God.
Unfortunately, despite Jesus’ constant invitation to us, we have not taken full advantage of this God-given privilege. No wonder then that we feel this gaping hole in our lives – that more often than not is filled not with Divine assurances, but rather with the nagging feelings of anxieties, restlessness even fatigue. Worse even this leads to a Christian experience that seem to lack joy, our lives fall to the “routine” mode, and our Christian service devoid of excitement.