Prayer is the most underutilized tool of the believer, and I put myself in that boat as well. We are such a “doing” culture that we feel like just praying isn’t doing enough. But the beauty of prayer is that we get to experience God and have direct access to Him, enjoying His presence. When we think of it that way, it’s crazy that we don’t pray as we ought to — unceasingly. It’s not until we feel some sort of outside pressure that we tend to take prayer seriously.
When we look at the Lord’s Prayer, before Jesus prays anything else, He starts off with adoration. We typically aren’t good at prayers of adoration and worship. Our habit may be to go straight to supplication and request, not thanksgiving. But before we launch into our list of what we think we need, we need to set our minds in the right framework, remembering who we are talking to. We need to behold the majesty of God.
Of course we need to cry out to God, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But why is it so hard for us to rest and just soak up the presence of God through prayer? It is so important, especially in these times, that we worship God in our prayers, alongside praying to God for others and challenging others to pray. First, we must be able to personally spend time with Him to be still and know that He is God.
Why pray? Because we are commanded to pray. In Philippians 4:6 we are told to present our requests to God. Throughout the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and the New, we see examples of apostles and others praying to God. Just as any relationship needs the two parties to speak to and commune with each other, our time in prayer to God is a vital part of our relationship with Him.
Before we pray, we need to understand that God is omniscient and sovereign. I know I, for one, have asked the question, “Why do we pray if God already knows if this will or will not happen?” We think that if we pray for what we want and it aligns with what God has planned, things will happen like we hope they would. But don’t be tempted to think that your prayers don’t matter — they do. In Scripture we see God perform countless miracles and show signs to His followers as a result of their prayers.
I remember when we were expecting twins, I prayed for their health and safety, and I prayed for boys! When these things happened, I can now look back and thank God for answering this prayer. During my NFL career, I often prayed about playing in specific places, knowing that wherever I played would affect my family, my children’s school and other factors. I asked God to show me if certain things were from Him or not, and He did. One of the main reasons we pray these things is so that when we receive the answer, no matter what that answer is, we know it’s from God. There’s a sense of deep security in knowing that God is in control.
We need wisdom above our own understanding right now. We don’t have all the answers … clearly. This year has brought about death, sickness, uncertainty, political and social upheaval, and fear. It hasn’t brought much in the way of happiness to a lot of people. But we have to be connected to the Source because we don’t have all the answers. As much as we try to find them in our own wisdom, we can’t. That’s foolishness to God.
When God asked Solomon what he desired from God, Solomon’s answer was to gain wisdom. For all the ups and downs that occurred throughout Solomon’s life, he is still known for his incredible wisdom. Having an understanding of what’s going on in our world today is so important, but having God’s divine guidance as to how to respond is crucial. In order to have the right perspective about what’s going on — not only in our country but globally — we have to tune into the Holy Spirit.
We, as believers, are to be praying that we will be a light in the darkness. We must be praying, both individually and corporately. I know that for me personally, when I do pray continually, not just daily but throughout the day, my mindset is completely different. We can’t afford for our minds to not operate according to God’s will. Prayer is what gives us the perspective to respond to what’s happening today in a Christlike way.
Psalm 16 starts off with the psalmist exclaiming his trust and reliance on God. In verse 8, we read, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Many of us today are shaken. We’re shaken financially, relationally, in our health, our futures, our faith, and in areas dealing with justice. We’re even shaken in our communion with the saints and the ability to attend church. But in this psalm, David is saying he won’t be shaken because he has his eyes set on the Lord.
The Lord is strong; the Lord is truth. He is everlasting. He is everything I am not and everything that the world cannot be for me. When I have Him in the place of power in my life, I can trust Him to guide me through. Only then will I not be shaken.
— Benjamin Watson, former NFL tight end
Benjamin Watson is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Benjamin’s Increase profile here.
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