“Give ear to my words; O Lord, consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning; O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning, I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”
In his small, but powerful book on prayer, John Onwuchekwa, equates prayer with breathing. He qquotes Martin Luther who stated, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Only a fool would argue with the fact that breathing is absolutely necessary for life. It enables every activity, and it’s absence leads to death. Now consider prayer in the life of the believer in the same way. Prayer is essential to our existence - it sustains us. It proves our dependence on God and it’s lack assumes our misunderstanding of that dependence. Do we only need God in certain circumstances? Is He intermittently necessary? The apostle Paul understood the necessity of prayer, as he commands the church to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18) and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17).
Onwuchekwa goes on to define prayer as calling on the name of the Lord as seen in the biblical examples of prayer. To call on the name of the Lord is to make an appeal to His character, to claim His promises. Prayer, then, is to make a request based on what you already know. In prayer, one is asking God to act in accordance to His character, to bring about the things that He has promised. This brings confidence and hope to the believer as he prays. Read Psalm 13 to see David go from despondency to praise as he calls on the name of the Lord.
Consider this theme of dependency in the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. He invites us to call on God as our Father in heaven. A child is dependent on his or her father and a Father in heaven has perfect power and authority for all that His children need. As we embrace this type of relationship to God, we should approach him boldly and humbly realizing He is not only compassionate, but also capable. Our first focus in prayer, as exampled in the Lord’s Prayer, should be God Himself -His honor, His kingdom, and His will. What we need most is to be aligned to Him and to experience His presence. Secondly, we should come to God asking for the things we need prioritizing provision, pardon and protection. Praying for daily bread reminds us of our dependency and His sufficiency; praying for forgiveness gives us a fresh reminder of our sin and Gods’ grace; praying for protection calls to mind our vulnerability and looks to God as our refuge.
The Open Room believes in the necessity of prayer and wants to provide a space that encourages you to call upon the name of the Lord. Please feel free to spend some time at our prayer corner.
Consider the following activities:
1. Confess your failure in prayer. Read John 15:4-5 to be reminded on your dependency on Jesus. Consider how you might change your habit of prayer to reflect this dependency.
2. Make a list of the character traits of God that you can appeal to through prayer. Use Psalm 103 and 145 as a guide.
3. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. Journal your observations and responses.
4. Challenge yourself to 30 minutes more than you are currently doing of daily prayer. At the end of the week reflect on the effects of this prayer time and share your conclusions with a friend.
Onwuchekwa, John. Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2018.