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“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near”
(Isaiah 55: 6)

Prayer is the Christian’s privilege and blessing. It is also one of the means of divine grace. Through His shed blood, our Lord Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to draw nigh unto God’s throne of grace. We thank God that He has accepted us in the Beloved (Eph. 1: 6). As His children, we can come freely before Him at any time of the day or night.

When God saved us, He gave us a desire to seek Him: “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Ps 27: 8). One writer aptly commented: “The desire to pray should be so natural to believers, that if anyone who professes Christianity constantly has no desire to pray, it is doubtful that he is truly regenerated.” But the same writer was quick to add that even true believers struggle with prayer. They may have a desire to pray, but find hard to maintain a consistent prayer life.

This brings to mind, the incident of Jesus’ disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion. Their Master had requested them to pray for Him as He struggled with thoughts of His coming sufferings, agony and death: “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matt 26: 38). But instead of praying, they fell asleep because “their eyes were heavy” (v 43). Finding them asleep, the Lord gently reproved them with these words: “What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (vv 40b-41).

Like the disciples of old, we do sometimes struggle with prayer. Let us consider some reasons why we neglect this important spiritual duty:

o No true conversion

If we continually neglect prayer, it could be an indication that we are not truly “born again”. The Lord Himself singled out prayer as one of the marks of conversion. When called to minister to Saul, Ananias was apprehensive of him who had been a zealous persecutor of Christians – “how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9: 13-14). The Lord’s assurance, “Behold he prayeth” (Acts 9: 11) to Ananias was evidence of Saul’s conversion and change of heart.

“Before he was a persecutor; now his change is indicated by his giving himself to prayer … We may learn here, that one indication of conversion to God is real prayer” (Albert Barnes).

Brethren, do we maintain a consistent prayer life? If not, let us check ourselves, “whether ye be in the faith” (II Cor 13: 5). We may profess to be a Christian, but if we do not pray, it is all empty talk. Perhaps our response to the Gospel call was a superficial one (Matt 13: 20-21). If we have not committed our lives fully unto the Lord, let us do so. May the Lord minister grace to turn our hearts unto Him.

o Lack of love for the Lord

How much or how little we pray reflects the measure of our love for the Lord. People who are in love with one another long to spend time together. They cannot bear to be apart. In the same way, one who loves God will desire to commune with Him.

The psalmist loved God and yearned to draw nigh to Him: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42: 1-2). What about us? Do we love God? Do we, like the psalmist, long to be in His presence?

o Disappointments

For some, their weak prayer life may be attributed to disappointments. Though they prayed, they did not seem to receive a “favourable” answer from the Lord. After some time, they decided that prayer was not worth their time because “my needs were not met” or “I did not get the answer I wanted”. This kind of prayer is done “with a view to self-indulgence and carnal gratification” (Albert Barnes). Their attitude is: “God is my Servant and hence must pander to my desires.” God does not promise to hear such prayers. The apostle James said that God would not attend to such selfish requests: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (Jas 4: 3).

Brethren, let us examine our prayer life. Do we pray with a self-centred attitude? Do we “ask amiss”? Do not allow disappointments to deter us from seeking the Lord. He knows what is best for us. Let us learn to wait upon Him. (… to be continued)

– Pastor