Prayer is at the heart of following Jesus. But it’s much more than we’ve made it. It’s so easy to trade a bit of specific devoted prayer time for some muttered, cluttered thoughts as we leave the house in the morning. We’re busy. Life is full and prayer is easy to forget. But, are we missing out on something vital?
Martin Luther, the German chap who redefined what the church was all about several hundred years ago, said: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” For many of us, when life gets hectic, prayer isn’t our first port of call, but an optional extra.
“My husband left me because I did not want to renounce my faith in Christ. I did not know what to do so I prayed to God. I prayed until 3am. As I was about to fall asleep, I heard footsteps entering my room. I felt warmth from head to toe, and all my burdens were lifted up. Now I can face the world, even without my husband, because I have Christ!”
Secret Christian from South East Asia
This quote highlights some key things about prayer we could do with being reminded of.
Firstly, she doesn’t give up. She keeps going – praying through pain, rejection, fear and tiredness. In fact, Jesus tells us to do the same (check out Luke 11:5-10).
Secondly, God hears. And if he hears her prayers, he also hears your prayers, mumblings and silent mutterings. He knows what you care about and what you need. Spending time in prayer, focusing on Him, can help us re-learn that (see James 4:8).
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
Thirdly, and probably, most importantly, she’s changed as the result of her prayers. Jesus appears to her in an incredible way, and gives her fresh strength, passion, love and hope. He hasn’t taken her away from the daily pain and rejection she will face, but He’s given her the strength to change, and maybe even change those around her. She knows He’s with her and that is enough.
The philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard said: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” This secret believer has got that. She’s prayed and God has responded, changing her in the process.
How often do we pray trying to get God to do what we want? Would our prayers change if we knew God might call us to be the answers to what we are praying about? Will we be the kind of people who say, no matter what life throws at us, ‘I’m ready to face the world, because I have Christ?’
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.