It should be obviously redundant to say that someone is a praying Christian. Indeed, Jesus knows no follower who isn’t a person of prayer. His teachings on prayer, particularly within the Sermon on the Mount, are abundantly clear on this as he uses the phrase “when you pray” on multiple occasions and he gives us a model for prayer that has daily components in it, such as food, forgiveness and deliverance from evil. So why do so many professing Christians have a prayer life that ranges from lousy to non-existent?
I think the answer lies with our intimacy with God. Jesus tells us in John 14 that if we keep his commands, he will send us another advocate – the Spirit of truth – to abide in us. This baptism of the Holy Spirit places us in eternal, perpetual communion with God. Failure to understand this fundamental truth of the Christian faith causes one to think that God is distant from us, and grows even more distant if our lives are filled with sin. The more distant we think that God is from us, the less likely we are to feel drawn to pray, until we are only praying when we are facing some sort of crisis. In a sense, this becomes the “out of sight, out of mind” effect on our prayer, and it reveals a lack of intimacy with God.
Yet Jesus invites us to pray to our “abba Father”, our daddy, which is an incredibly intimate term. And the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is such an intimate bond that it can never be broken, creating a relationship with him that is deeper, more profound and more loving than any relationship that we will otherwise have. When we understand this truth and embrace it, we realize that prayer is a natural result. If we are forever in His presence, and He is forever in ours, then of course we are going to talk with Him. We’ll ask questions, we’ll comment on things that we are thankful for, we’ll pray for ourselves and for others regularly, and we’ll seek to align our will with His. We have the Creator of the Universe living inside of us, inviting us to walk more deeply with Him every moment of every day, inviting us to pray without ceasing.
If you have a lousy prayer life, perhaps you need to go back to the basis of your relationship with Jesus. If you have truly surrendered your life to Him, poured yourself out and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit as you seek to follow His will, then spend time today simply understanding that the Holy Spirit abides in you, and you abide in Him, and start the conversation again. And if you haven’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, surrender your life fully to Christ right now. Pour out your life, confess your sins before God, repent of your life and pray that God would create in you a new heart, filling you with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps what you have been missing in your prayer life has been Christ himself.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron