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Prayer - Life's Vital Breath

By Rev Dr Colin Peckham

Prayer is basic to the advance of Christ's cause.

The real work is done where only the eye of God can see. he who would speak much to men for God must speak much to God for men. Only as I truly know Him can I make Him truly known.

The apostles said, 'We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word' (Acts 6:4). Prayer was first, ministry next. This is where the burden is imparted and where the agony and the joy of intercession is experienced.

Prayer makes the soul-winner and the character of that praying will determine the character of his work. Prayer gives your words strength and unction. no knowledge of the Bible can make up for the failure to pray. Prayer cause words to be scented with the air of heaven, to be fired with the light of God's glory, to be empowered with the dynamic of the Spirit.

Yet it is not an easy thing to pray. There is a price to be paid, a price of curbed freedom, of resolute concentration, of agonising supplication. Prayer is the acid test of devotion. to stay in the presence of God and to wait upon Him baring your soul to His searching gaze costs everything! The one who prays will be transformed! Prayer must make him holier, purer, more Christ-like. Prayer is a purifying medium. It equips him for the spiritual battle of soul-winning. In prayer we get to know God, and 'the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits' (Dan 11:32). From the place of prayer Samuel Chadwick's great words ring out, 'Men ablaze are invincible. Hell trembles when men kindle.'

Prayer is necessary for communion with God.

Jesus withdrew into the solitary place to pray. He needed the fenced spaces of silence. we too need habitual times of quiet waiting upon God where we enjoy sweet communion with him and where we are revived by His presence. You must force yourself to be alone to pray! Let no excuse hinder your prayer time, for you real effectiveness as a Christian or Christian worker depends on your communion with God. Become familiar with the court of heaven!

Prayer lifts the soul into heaven, it brings us into contact with eternity, it gives us vision of the invisible, it brings fragrance to life, beauty to the face, heaven to the earth. 'Those who look to Him are radiant.' (Ps. 34:5 NIV). Prayer is a transforming exercise. Here is the secret of the burning heart and of the shining face.

Get through to the barriers of wandering thoughts and weary bodies and press on into the presence of God. this takes time but time must be made! Don't imagine that dreaming or dozing is praying! Prayer demands every faculty of mind and heart but the treasures it yields are always worth the price it demands. Wait on God! This is the open secret of spiritual vitality and growth.

Prayer is also necessary in the service of God.

Paul asked the Thessalonians to 'pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified' (II Thes. 3:1). The rule for the soul-winner is, 'God as you pray and pray and you go.' Prayer should precede every phase of soul-winning. 'Pray without ceasing' (I Thes. 5:17) should be our motto.

We have the supreme example of the Lord Jesus as One who prayed. He prayed in the night (Mk. 1:45) so that He might have undisturbed communion. he prayed before His public ministry (Luke 3:21,22), before an evangelistic tour (Mk. 1:35,38), before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12,13), before the great revelation of His death (Luke 9:18,21,22), after the great achievement of feeding the five thousand (Jn. 6:15), before the simplest affairs of life (Matt. 14:19), when He was busy (Luke 5:15,16), when He was weary (Matt. 6:31,33-36), and in the last moments of His life (Luke 23:34). The life of Jesus was a life of prayer.

Another example of a prayer-filled ministry is that of Nehemiah. he 'wept and mourned, fasted and prayed' (Neh. 1:4). When the king questioned him we read, 'so I prayed to the God of heaven, and said unto the king' (Neh. 2:4,5). It was an ejaculatory prayer. he was in touch with heaven and easily and constantly called upon God. during opposition we read, 'nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God' (4:9), and again later, 'Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands' (6:9).

Wherever we are we should not be far away from a prayer! Lift your heart to God in the middle of a conversation or as you face difficulties, for He is near and will answer your prayer.