Is that you? Do you have a routine prayer where you just push play and pray?
I’m guilty of this and it is because we have our one-minute prayer books and shotgun prayers to Heaven and we honestly cannot understand why our prayer life is so ineffective. Jesus’ brother James reminds us:
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b)
James is presenting three components here: effectiveness, fervency, and righteousness.
Jesus’ recipe is for us to set aside time, pride, routine, and unforgiveness if we are to pray as He did:
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him..For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:5-8, 14-15)
Um, Bro Dave, you left out the Lord’s Prayer, verse 9-13. I know; we’ll talk more on that Monday.
Could you imagine if Jesus actually answered your prayers in the manner which you pray right now? Think about it; you mumble your prayers real quick, prayers of survival and empty expectation, knowing in your heart and mind that you are not approaching the throne of grace with a heart of reverence. You tell yourself you’re going to get it together real soon and then you’ll spend time in your prayer closet and really begin to pray and meditate.
Jesus is still waiting.
Dr. Robert A. Cook is quoted by Warren Wiersbe on prayer:
“All of us have one routine prayer in our system; and once we get rid of it, then we can really start to pray!”
Our prayer life is like week old bread, not even worthy of feeding the birds.
Beloved, it is time to begin praying as Jesus said, in our secret place…that is where God resides. And we need to pray sincerely, knowing that God already knows our needs and He is just waiting for us to ask of Him. And we must pray not in our will but in God’s will. Remember this prayer:
“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:39)
That’s what you call living in the nevertheless!
That’s what you call effective and fervent prayer!
That’s what you call the Righteous One!
Wait a minute Bro Dave, how can you consider that effective prayer? Jesus was crucified. Yes, and His brother James said that this type of prayer avails much. Can you think of anything thing accomplished on earth more effective than Christ crucified and resurrected? O death where is your sting?
There are some 90 of you receiving this email, another dozen or so reading this on my blog; let’s call it 100. If Billy Graham’s numbers are correct (which I suspect they are) then 95 of you are living spiritually defeated lives. That’s right, Rev. Graham has stated that he believes 95% of Christians live spiritually defeated lives.
And it begins in their prayer life…boring, routine if at all prayer life.
Is that you?
Here’s a novel idea…how about we ask Jesus to give us a grade on our prayer life. Honest to goodness the Holy Spirit is my witness Lord what grade do you give me for my prayer life.
I would have to say at best I am a C-, more likely a D+.
I know, sad isn’t it? A man who studies and comments on God’s Word getting a barely passing grade in prayer.
What about if I graded on a curve? Jesus doesn’t grade on a curve; that stuff is stubble.
Do you even know what pray is? Has it, like so much in American Christendom, become so convoluted and diluted that you don’t even recognize what Jesus speaks of in this passage from Matthew 6?
Don’t beat yourself up too bad; at least you recognize it now. Ten minutes ago you were clueless.
Now you know what to confess and seek God’s forgiveness.
And now you know what to put on the Refiner’s fire and where to go to begin all over again. Time to clean out that cluttered prayer closest and close the door behind you.
There you will find the Father’s will. More on that Monday when we look at Matthew 6:9-13.
May the Lord richly bless and bountifully refresh you this weekend and of course, please remember to go to church on Sunday.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers