As Christians, prayer is a subject that gets talked about quite a bit. It is not abnormal for us to talk of the importance of a strong prayer life, and to read books and hear sermons about praying. But do we live as if it is vital? In other words, do we really believe that prayer is as important as we say it is? If we did, wouldn’t we make prayer more of a priority in our lives?
I know in my own life there is a seemingly constant battle within myself to not stand in my own strength. It is far too easy for me to wake up and not begin my day with little prayer. It is far too easy for me to make plans, work my job, or embark upon some ministry project without consulting my Lord and His Word, and petitioning Him for wisdom and strength.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in Him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”
Jesus commanded us to abide in Him, but how can we abide in our Lord if there is no communication with Him? Prayer is our communication with God, and any relationship expert will tell you that communication is essential to a healthy relationship.
Furthermore, Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing.” He does not say, “Without me you can do little.” He says “nothing”. Apart from God’s help, we cannot bear spiritual fruit, fulfill the Great Commission, or respond rightly when the children make a mess on their clean clothes two minutes before it is time to leave. I praise God that He is often so faithful to help me, even when I take that help for granted, neither asking Him nor thanking Him for it! But I definitely don’t want this to be the norm. I want to always recognize my need of Christ and live in perpetual gratitude and praise to Him.
Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” It does not simply say, “Be strong brothers! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Don’t be weak!” It says to be strong “in the Lord” and “in the power of His might”. How is this done? We must not be strong in our own strength, for it is weakness. As we already examined, without Christ we can do nothing.
The next few verses in Ephesians 6 talk about putting on the whole armor of God. The vivid imagery concludes with verse 18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thus with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Craig Hamilton wrote in his book Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading the People You Serve,
The local church exists to accomplish things that aren’t possible. The church exists to see people transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and to see them transformed into the likeness of the Son of God—all of which is impossible. But with God all things are possible, which is why we need to pray. Unless God is in it, nothing we do will be of any eternal significance. (Hamilton 43.)
Is it okay to pray to God for help in praying better and more frequently? I believe so. In my own experience and to my exceeding joy, this has been a prayer God has been pleased to answer. One line to an old hymn says, “I need Thee, Oh I need Thee! Every hour I need Thee!”(Hawks, 1872). We truly need God every hour—indeed, every passing moment! May our lives reflect this reality by being prayerful.