Last week we started discussion on some of the essentials and best ingredients when it comes to our spiritual life. Our focus for the first week was the importance of spending time reading the Bible, as it’s God’s written word and message to us. This week we want to take a look at the importance of prayer.
1 Kings 18:36-38
At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!
The story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal is an incredible tale of a man’s faith in God, and the power of prayer. But what about our prayers? We probably have never called down fire from the sky, but most of us pray. In fact, if you practice any religion at all you probably pray. Muslims pray, Buddhists pray, even people who claim no affiliation at all pray when they face times of trouble. We live in a world where prayer is not uncommon. So what makes our prayers different from the rest of humanity?
There are many things that are important about prayer, but I want to look at three specific things that make our prayers different.
When we pray to God, we connect to Him. Unlike the prophets of Baal, when Elijah prayed he connected with God. Our prayers our different because when we pray we are praying to the one true living God. Prayer is not a one-way message to the sky, it is a conversation with God.
When we call upon His name, we are instantly connected to Him. We don’t have any “dead spots” in coverage, we can be connected to God at any time, anywhere, simply through prayer. We have direct access to God without having to go through anyone in between. But prayer isn’t just about us talking to God.
When we pray, we hear from God. Elijah knew exactly what he needed to do. Why? Because he had heard directly from God. God wants a dialogue with us, not just a daily monologue from us.
We aren’t supposed to do all the talking. At some point we need to quiet ourselves and patiently listen to what God has to say to us. He doesn’t talk on cue, but if we can tune out the noise of the world and our lives we can be confident we will hear from him. He wants to speak to us directly and specifically. Our prayers are holy conversations with God. We pray, He hears. He hears and He responds. He responds, and we hear.
When we hear from God, we are to obey. It is not enough for us just to hear from God, we must obey Him as well. Regardless of how He responds, if we do not do as He asks us to, we will find it harder to hear what He has to say to us. We need to pray in a way that we hear God’s voice and obey it.
When we obey His instructions, we have com full circle in the communication process of prayer. Ultimately, our prayers end in action by God, us or both. Often God gives us instruction even as we wait on the answer to what we are praying for. We must be obedient in that as well.
Connecting with God and hearing His voice are absolutely crucial to our lives, but if we are not obeying what we hear, something is wrong in our hearts. Two out of three won’t work. We need the full circle of prayer to be in place if we are going to truly be His disciples.