I realized recently that I have a tendency to take the sovereignty of God so much for granted that I fail to pray specifically, strategically and persistently. God’s sovereignty should instead inspire me to set before Him the burdens of my heart, because He is able to answer my prayers. His ability to act should not be an excuse for my complacency–instead it should cause me to entreat Him to act.
Paul certainly valued prayer, and spent much time in it night and day. He wrote in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” I love to read Paul’s recorded prayers, and I hope to someday pray like he did. Sometimes I wish I could have listened in on his private prayers.
I believe that prayer is the most important work of a Christian, coming even before evangelism. Paul asked for prayer so that he would be able to evangelize. All the other ministry we do is pointless if we are not devoting ourselves to prayer, asking God to do the work.
God IS sovereign, and He IS able to open doors for the gospel, for abortion to be ended, for Jesus to return, for kings and rulers to make wise decisions, for orphans and widows to be taken care of, for the oppressed and downtrodden to be defended and comforted. We should not just expect God to do these things, we should ask Him to do them. Our hearts should burn with the desires of God Himself. If we allow Him to fill us with His heart and mind we will be so overwhelmed we’ll have no where to turn but to God Himself and must cry out to Him.
I want so much to be a person devoted to prayer. But I am distracted from within and from without. I love God and I long to sit with Him and listen to His heart and share mine with Him. He is my Father who loves me, so how could I not want to be with Him? But I am pulled away. I know that it is the most important work I can do; that as I pray the Lord empowers the other things I do. But I try to do those things in my own strength anyway.
The reason there are so many distractions is because prayer is so vital. Our enemy does not want us to pray and our flesh avoids it at all cost, so his work is easy. He might not be able to tempt us with the gross sins, but he sure can tempt us to do worthless things (relatively speaking) instead of praying. It happens to me all the time. That is why Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
So this is my prayer: that I will be self-controlled and serious-minded enough to devote myself to prayer, knowing that the end of all things is near, and that God counts my prayers as important in His Sovereign work. And I ask that God will fill my heart with His passions and burdens; that I will love what He loves and hate what He hates; that He will use me as part of the answer to my prayers–prayer leads to power for ministry.
Below is a link to an article by John Piper on the prayers of the saints and end times. It is a bit long, but worth reading.