John Calvin called prayer the “chief exercise of faith.”
And I would go as far as to say that prayer is a direct response to grace. Meaning that no Christ follower should be without a prayer life - that would be a paradox.
If we love Jesus and have been brought into the saving and transforming knowledge of the cross, then we are spiritually alive. We have been born again through faith in God and indwelled by the Holy Spirit which gives us an eternal, God-focused vision that previously didn't exist.
In other words, all those who have a true relationship with Christ have a desire to commune and spend timewith Him through prayer. We desire and long for this because through it we experience true intimacy with the Lord. We deeply need this. We wither without it. So when prayer is something we struggle with and there is no prevailing sin in our lives, the problem can be traced back to our faith and to our method.
Prayer should be our delight not our duty. Prayer should be a foundation of our walk with Jesus. Prayer should be our heart's desire.
Through out my walk with God I have spent many hours praying over direction, asking for answers, interceding for people and praying for certain outcomes.
And many times I have felt as if I heard nothing but silence. I wait, I pray harder, and I say the same things over and over again only to be met with the continued sound of nothingness. In these moments, I would turn back to the Sunday school mantra's that often stick with us forever. Repeating to myself, "Ask and you will receive" like a broken record that can't get past a lyric. And then I would think, why am I not receiving?!
This cultivated a level of frustration in my prayer life. Were my prayers unheard, not good enough, asking too much?
I left it at that, and didn't dive deeper into the, "why" - I still prayed but I didn't expect much in return.
Earlier this year I was examining my expectancy, or lack thereof, for God to move when I stumbled upon this verse:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:5-8
A thought began to creep its way through my mind.
My doubt, my lack of expectancy, my faithlessness - void my requests. Why would God in all of His infinite glory and omniscience, who demands our worship and our faith in Him, move when I am asking aloud but doubting in my head and heart.
There was a disconnect.
God's requirement for us is simple: submit to Him in obedience and faith, love Him, worship Him, and recognize our great need for Him -and after all of that, be transformed by this knowledge. (Luke 4:8, Matthew 22:37, John 14:1). All of these things should create a desperation in us to sit at his feet.
I started to really meditate on James 1:5-8, and I realized that while my faith in God, his goodness, his power, and his glory was concrete, that my faith through prayer in His ability and WILLINGNESS to move was almost nonexistent.
Major heart check. What is faith if it doesn't overtake every area of our heart, mind, and life?
My conviction is this: That when we love God and when we understand the breadth of His glory and power, it should give us a hope that covers everything, including our prayer life. A hope that he can and will move.
And if we feel that all we are hearing is silence and if we see a lack of passion in our prayers, then we must evaluate the state of our hearts and the method and content of our prayers.
It really boils down to 5 things:
1) Ask, EXPECTING God to move. (1 John 5:14)
2) Having a heart of a belief. And if we find ourselves in doubt and lack of faith, our prayer must simply and sincerely become, "God, give me faith." (Mark 11:24)
3) Seek His will and not our own. (Psalm 19:14, Romans 8:26)
4) Pray often with passion and urgency (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
5) Pray without distraction. (Matthew 6:6)
Prayer is not a small thing. It is important and powerful. We were created in the image of God, and the purpose of man created in the image of God is to display the glory of God. And one way this glory is clearly displayed and preached is through our utter dependency on Him through prayer.