by Josiah Robles
When Christ died as told in the Gospel of Matthew, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matt. 27:50-51a). This was more than a spectacle. It showed us that we could now come to the Father directly, as before only once a year could an offering be made to God for our sins.
The writer of Hebrews expresses this plainly, “But Christ came as the High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle…” (Heb. 9:11). “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Heb. 10:19-20).
Prayer is a Gift
Prayer, therefore, is something that has been given to us as a gift from Christ when He came and died on the cross. His death made the way for us to come to the Holiest place, before the throne of God, and be heard.
This means that no longer are we separated from God, like the men and women in the Old Covenant were. Instead, in this New Covenant brought forth by the blood of Christ, we are allowed to come to God with our needs and our worries.
God wants us to come to Him and have communion with Him. If this was not the case, then He would not have sent His son to die, which gives us the ability to come to the Father. Furthermore, we have the promise that He will deliver: “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:15).
Relationship with God
When one understands the absolute love that God has for us to send His Son to die for us to restore the relationship we broke, the only proper thing we can do is respond to His call. Prayer in my life, as a believer, is vital because God has called me into a relationship with Him, as He has with every believer.
My God has called me to be with Him first and foremost. Prayer is how He calls me, and it is how I am to respond. Many times, I have substituted “doing for” God in place of “being with” God. In getting our priorities mixed up, we lose the connection we need with the Father to do what God wants us to do.
Being with God
The longer I didn’t seek God in prayer or spend time “being with” Him, and instead focused on trying to do all these “things” for God, the more confused my work for God became. Prayer is where God speaks to me and guides me on what I need to do. The longer I am apart from Him, the more I lose sight of what He had planned for me.
Simply put, without prayer, there can be no spiritual development. All spiritual development comes from our communion with God. He speaks to us when we commune with Him. When I pray, He speaks to me and molds me.
More like Christ
Furthermore, how can we expect to be more like Christ if we do not know who He is? If I do not come to God in prayer and meditate in prayer, where I block out all things of this world and simply be with God, I will never personally know who He is. I can study day and night of His nature and what He has done for others, but He wants to personally show me His nature and show me what He can do for me.
If I never come to God and open my heart to Him, He can never truly change who I am. Prayer is what allows the God of the universe to work intimately on our hearts, revealing our brokenness and need for Him. If I do not come back to God in prayer regularly, I can easily fall into the belief that I do not need Him, and again I slowly fall away and do my will instead of the will of the Father’s.
Christian leaders must be wary of falling into this trap. The longer a person is away from God, the more their own will replaces the will of God. If Christian leaders do not pray, they should not expect to know what God’s plan is for them or for those that they are to serve and lead. Furthermore, if a Christian leader does not pray, he or she will easily lead people astray rather than leading them to Christ. Prayer is what keeps leaders on the path of righteousness.
Renew your Mind
Paul gives warnings against becoming like this world in saying, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). However, how can a Christian leader do this without prayer? Prayer is what allows a leader to come before God in such a way that allows God to renew their mind and transform them to be good and acceptable before God.