With the National Day of Prayer fast approaching, I find myself reflecting on my lack of prayerfulness. I often find myself asking: Why don’t I pray more? Prayer is one of the greatest aspects of the Christian life. Prayer is our inestimable privilege as adopted children to come before the throne of grace and to commune with our Triune God. Yet, if I’m honest I struggle with prayer. And it distresses me when I think about it.
Today, I’ve been considering that occasion when Jesus faced his hour of need in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are told in the Gospels, he asked his disciples to ‘keep watch and pray’. Remember, what happened? The Gospels record for us that the disciples fell asleep. Not just once! Not just twice! But three times!
How often do I fail my Master in the same way? Far too often! Not only that, it troubles me that I’m indifferent, complacent, even apathetic to my Lord and Saviour who laid down his life to save me. I know in my heart that my greatest need in life is to depend upon God. He is the only one who can save me, forgive me, change me, sustain me and keep me to that Last Day. But, alas, I’m often too tired, too busy, too proud, too bored, too amused, too entertained and too comfortable 'to keep watch and pray'.
Do you remember Jesus’ diagnosis of the problem? ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ This is my problem: a willing heart to pray, but lack the necessary commitment and perseverance to pray. I wonder if you feel the same way.
So, what’s the answer to our prayerlessness? Well, do remember what happened after the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ? It struck me today that the disciples, who once failed to stay awake, were transformed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost into prayer warriors.
Luke says in Acts chapter 2, just after the event of Pentecost, ‘they devoted themselves to prayer’. If you read on in Acts, you see that nothing could prevent the disciples from praying – not persecution, not imprisonment, not beatings, not suffering, and not even death (Acts 7:59). They were men filled with the Spirit of God; and they were conscious of their need to rely 100% upon God.
Time and time again, their prayers were wonderfully answered. And we see in Acts, as the Lord moulded their lives, he used them to proclaim the good news, to love their neighbours, to make disciples, to plant and to revitalise churches. It is what Christians do when they are filled with the Spirit. Just go read Acts!
So, if I am going to discover the power of prayer, I desperately need revival in my heart. I need the Spirit of God to come and revive me. I need Him to breathe new life into me. I need Him to change me from the inside - to take my cold, hard, callous, lifeless heart and make it beat again for Him. I need the Spirit of God to perform spiritual-heart-surgery, to bring me to that place of genuine heartfelt repentance, trust and reliance upon God for everything in life. If I am going to have that same red-hot passion that the early Christians had for God’s glory and for the advancement of His Kingdom, then I need to be revived.
One of the reasons, I am so thankful for the Free Church National Day of Prayer is this a day for me to come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ and to pray for revival in the church … starting with me.