Prayer is an interesting activity that needs attention. As a pastor and son of a pastor, I learned something about the prayer enthusiasm of church members. I could call for a Sunday morning worship time and the response of church members was the best. I could call for a special event on Saturday evening or Sunday evening and the response was also good...sometimes better than Sunday morning. I could call for a prayer meeting at any time...ANY TIME...and the response of church members...believers...was always the worst response. Whenever prayer time is called the lowest number of believers show up. Why?
I never understood why talking to God was less important for believers than getting their ears tickled by a music artist or special guest. I think it was a possibility that more believers would come to a special church cleaning than to a prayer meeting. Are you kidding me? Believers would choose cleaning toilets over spending time with God? Seems that way.
Prayer is a lifeline for believers. It is the time we show God that He is the One leading us and we're following Him. It is a time to recognize that God is sitting on the throne of our lives and we need Him to be our Lord.
In Jeremiah chapter 29 Jeremiah sends a letter to those who have been exiled by King Nebuchadnezzar from their home in Jerusalem to Babylon. Jeremiah's message instructs them about prayer. Here it is:
"This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon:
'Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters.
Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters.
Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper."
For this is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: "Don't let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don't listen to the dreams you elicit from them,
for they are prophesying falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them." This is the Lord's declaration." 29:4-9
This chapter deals with prayer.
1. Prayer is not a substitute for work. Like James said..."Be doers of the word and not hearers only!" James 1:22
2. The purpose for prayer is NOT for things but a closer walk with God.
3. To find God means to concentrate all your faculties in the search.
4. There are no geographical limits to praying. These people had been taken out of their country to a land far away...Babylon.
Again, false prophets were telling the people to revolt against the Babylonians. But, Jeremiah, the true prophet was telling them that God wanted them to be peaceful. Build houses and plant gardens and eat the food that comes from the foreign soil. Marry and increase while you are there. God tells them that in seventy years He will bring an end to Babylon and the Jews will be allowed back into their land. But...until then...be faithful and be at peace.
It was a tradition for the people of Israel to take soil from the land when they would leave. When they prayed they would lay the soil on a cloth on the ground and kneel on it and pray. They were under the assumption that God would not hear their prayer unless they were on Israeli soil. It continues to be their custom today...at least for orthodox Jews. Jeremiah was letting the people know that God hears their prayer while standing on foreign soil. Don't limit God.
Remember King David? He told God that everywhere he goes...God is there!
It should bring comfort to a believer to know that God is everywhere you go. He sees you now. He knows your heart better than you know your own heart. He knows what you think. He knows your ambitions. BUT...God has His own ambitions for you!
Verse 29 God says:
"For I know the plans that I have for you. This is the Lord's declaration--plans for your welfare, NOT for disaster, to give you a future and a hope!"
This may be the greatest comfort to every believer. God has a plan for your life. His plan is best. His plan is prosperous. His plan for your life is like standing under an umbrella of protection that God has placed over you. His plan is security.
Now...don't you think it would be wise to pray and consult with the One who does that for you?
Whenever someone calls for a time of prayer...be the first one at the door ready to pray.
Don't get lazy talking with God.
Don't run and hide from talking with God.
Conversations with God are great! It is a time for you to get to know Him better. It is a time to show Him that you care about Him and that you love Him.
It is a time that you show Him and those around you that you desire for Him to be the LORD of your life.
Prayer...It's a funny thing. I have just written this email about prayer. Do you know what I was doing just before writing this email?
May God Bless You!
TO GOD BE ALL GLORY!