I had the privilege to watch a tape of Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, preaching on prayer. His message revealed that Jesus reminded us that God’s house is to be a house of prayer. There are many churches that choose not to pray or treat prayer as a ritual to be done as specific times. Prayer has been demoted from a priority to a program in many churches.
However, Pastor Cymbala reminded me that prayer is about a relationship in which we fellowship and commune with God. It is when we come to God’s table and sup with him. It is in prayer that we are empowered for God’s work, seek God’s wisdom in life, and submit to his sovereignty. This does not mean that Scripture is not a source of wisdom or strength. This does not mean the Holy Spirit does not empower. On the contrary, prayer is a means by which God grants more faith. Prayer is about the fellowship and communion that takes place. Prayer is a vehicle used by the Holy Spirit to petition and offer supplication to God as well as bless us.
His sermon reminded me also about how often prayer is mental and not spiritual. We offer prayers in order to sound spiritual, preach with fancy words, or simply recite a memorized rhyme as if it’s a child’s poem. Prayers can be memorized verses, full of fancy words, and sound spiritual, but if there is no submission, communion, or fellowship, then it is not prayer but proclamation.
When we pray, do we seek to be with God, to come into the presence of the Creator? Or do we merely recite some lines and make our demands? As Pastor Cymbala highlighted, prayer is a trademark and badge of honor to Christians. Christians are to be know as praying people. Revivals throughout history began with and were sustained by prayer. The 120 in the upper room prayed before Pentecost came. Jesus prayed all the time, often leaving the crowd to pray. Peter and John, after being arrested and beaten by the Sanhedrin, went to a prayer meeting to seek God for strength. God’s people are known by their prayer.
I encourage everyone to spend time praying this week. Seek God’s presence, ask to fellowship and commune with your Lord and Savior. Ask him to draw you closer to him. Your walk in Christ will be stronger, your faith renewed, and your desire to serve God enlivened.