As with all of God’s commands, our answer is always why? Why do we need to read the Bible? Why do we need to go to Church? Why do we need to breathe? Why do we need to eat? But this command to pray is often the most difficult to obey. For reading the Bible at least seems to be a something and going to Church at least seems to be a something. These are activities that, while demanding of our time, at least seem to accomplish something. But prayer seems to be just talking that doesn’t appear to accomplish anything when so so much needs to be done right now!
And yet, prayer, like little forgotten David pasturing his sheep, is king. The question is not, “Why prayer?” Nobody ever stays up at night pondering and asking God, “Why prayer?” Because that would be a real prayer. No we ponder in anguish of many feelings while asking and asking, “Why marry?” or “Why work?” or “Why live?” or “Why atoms?” and so on. We pray to ourselves or pray to the god of google or oprah or our best friend who doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life either. But we never ever ask God. Yet the fact that we spontaneously speak to the gods of the air or sea or land proves one thing: prayer has primacy. Prayer is foundational and will always be done.
But because prayer is so basic, we think it is useless and even onerous to pray to God. In the past, I have called it providence that He “refuses” to act without prayer. As if God has quirks! An engineer, through building many houses, comes to love the humble, solid ground more than he loves the house’s vaunted elegance. The layman, however, walks around never thinking of the earth ... until it slides or quakes beneath him. The farmer is in love with the soil and sees it as most precious. But only a few would understand the depth of her offering if, instead of fruit, she began selling the rich soil. And so it is with prayer. Everybody prays (mostly to idols) and everybody needs to pray but it is an affront to our idolatrous hearts when prayer is lifted up as the most important thing a Christian ever does.
What Is Prayer?
Prayer is a conversation between you and your God about the world around you and the world within you. We often think of prayer as asking for things. Yet even when we ask for anything, we are expressing three things:
But this conversation between you and God is not required to be the codified articulation of “Our Father who art in heaven”. Prayer is also the child who walks with the Father constantly yapping and talking and saying stuff like, “Daddy, Daddy, why do the birds fly? Why do frogs have crooked legs? Why is that man so short? Oooh, a chicken!” And so on. And thereby, through the relationship with her Father, the child comes to know herself and she comes to know everything else. Most importantly though, Father God loves to hear your voice. Like a human father hearing his crying son, God urgently sent Ananias to Paul saying, “Behold, he prays.”
You may again think of it this way. The soil beneath your feet is prayer. Underneath this rich soil of prayer is the deep bedrock and flowing rivers which we call love. From the perspective of eternity, those who love God will pray and those who don’t love God will not pray. Only through prayer can the believer, a creature of eternity and time
Knowledge and Power
In addition to knowledge, prayer also grants power. Hence Jesus said that it is through prayer that a man gains the power to cast out certain kinds of demons
Joshua, in the middle of a pitch battle, was not instructed by God to ask the sun and moon to stop
When you know the Heart of God on a matter, when you hate what God Hates and love what God Loves, then He Will Uphold your words. If, out of jealousy for God, you perceive that in time the sun and moon need to stand still, then God will back you up. If you think it needs to stop raining so that the people can learn that The Lord is God
Prayer is Life
Therefore, the power gained through prayer is not the cavalier unchecked weakness of the tyrant or the mob. It is a pure and holy power that can only be used in the context of a relationship with God. He Punishes any attempt to use this power beyond the boundaries of relationship with Him
But Elijah is NOT different by virtue of having special spiritual DNA. No. Elijah prayed over and over and over again. Through prayer, he was affirmed in God’s love for him. Through prayer, he knew and became the image of God’s Loves and God’s Hates. He grew so close to God that men began to approach him with a holy fear of God