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(Scripture Portion: Luke 11: 1-13; 18: 1-8)
To the born again soul, prayer is as essential as breathing, and to neglect it must result in weakness and defeat. It is not only important that Christians should pray, but it is of supreme importance. This fact makes our present study one to which we should give special heed. Christians need instruction about prayer - its meaning, its promises, its method and its value - look up Luke 11:1. How wonderful to be taught to pray by John; how much more wonderful to be taught by the Lord Jesus! - and look up Romans 8:26-27.
What is prayer? C. H. Spurgeon said that, “The heart of prayer is the prayer of the heart.” It does not consist simply of words, gestures, forms or eloquence. “Prayer is the address of a poor creature on earth to a great Creator and loving Father in Heaven.” Think about this simple definition; it reveals the supreme wonder of prayer that a poor sinful being can commune with the high and lofty One (Isaiah 57:15).
1. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN
1. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because of the importance it is given in the Word of God. The Bible is full of the subject of prayer. Imagine what a mutilated book we should have if every reference to prayer were taken out of it. The fact of the emphasis on this subject of prayer which is made in the Word of God indicates to us the supreme importance placed upon it by the Holy Spirit who is the Author of the book (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
2. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because of the teaching of our Lord. Here again, imagine the four Gospels with every reference to prayer cut out of them. How mutilated the books would be! Over and over again our blessed Lord stressed the importance of prayer, gave wonderful promises in relation to prayer and encouraged His disciples (and us) to pray - look up Matthew 18:19, 21:22; Mark 11:24 and John 14:13-14. He, in fact, is our great example in prayer - look up Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18 and 28; 11:1 and 22:41-42.
3. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because it is the first instinct of the new life. Just as the first instinct of a newly-born babe is to cry, and in so doing to use its lungs, so the first instinct of the newly-converted soul is to cry - look up Romans 8:15, and notice the illustration of this simple truth in Acts 9:11, where we read of Saul, immediately after his vision of the ascended Lord, praying.
4. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because it is the Christian’s vital breath. The Christian life is a new life - His life, the life of the risen Lord Jesus implanted in us by the Holy Spirit - look up 1 John 5:13-14. This new life can only be sustained by prayer, and only by prayer can we develop into robust, healthy Christians; without prayer we shall be anaemic, lifeless and ineffective. This means that we should pray privately (Matthew 6:6), frequently (Psalm 55:17), regularly (Daniel 6:10); in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15) - in fact, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
5. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because it is such a glorious privilege to pray. The Christian life is full of privileges, but can you imagine any greater privilege than to enter into the holiest of all, into the throne room of the King, and to bow in humble worship at His feet, to speak with Him face to face and as friend with friend? How great is this privilege! - look up Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:19-22.
6. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because of all it can accomplish in supplying every need. It is perfectly true that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”, but think of the wonderful accounts of the power of prayer which have been recorded for us in the Word of God. How many can you enumerate? In the light of these, is it not amazing that we do not pray more? For the believer, prayer is the divine method for supplying every need - look up Philippians 4:19; and the reason we do not have is because we do not ask - look up James 4:2. If only we would ask, we would receive - look up Luke 11:9-10. What is it you need? Money? A house? Food? Employment? The salvation of some loved one? Then ask!
7. Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because only through prayer can God’s will be accomplished. His working depends upon our asking – look up James 5:17. He waits to yield to our pleas - look up Ezekiel 36:37. This is how he has ordained it. The purpose of prayer is not to make God alter His will, but to provide Him with a channel through which He may accomplish His will.
2. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
It is only necessary to read the Book of Acts, which contains the inspired history of the early Church, to become convinced that the ministry of prayer was foremost in the life and the service of the Church. The Church was born in a prayer meeting, as we discover by comparing Acts 1:13-14 and 2:1-4. These early believers also attended the regular prayer meetings in the temple - look up Acts 3:1; moreover, in times of special testings they held special times of prayer - look up Acts 4:23-31; 12:1,5,12 and 17, and 16:25. They believed that prayer was a priority matter - look up Acts 6:4, and they prayed when they longed that Matthew 9:38 should be fulfilled - look up Acts 13:1-4. Yes, and when they said farewell they prayed - look up Acts 20:36. Years ago, Dr Reuben Archer Torrey said,
“Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of the pray-er. But we must use the key. Prayer can do anything that God can do, and as God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent.”
May we prove it in our own lives and in the life of the Church.