By Josiah Robles
How does prayer connect us to God? Prayer is more than just a few words spoken to God before a meal or before one goes to sleep. Though it can simply be said that prayer is how “we make contact with God, and likewise God communicates with us.” Prayer is a lifestyle of communion with God in which we develop a deep intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. This deep intimate relationship with the father is what allows us to become friends with God.
Prayer for me as a Christian leader is extremely significant. Prayer is what allows me to come before God and learn who He is and what He wants for my life. Furthermore, He not only gives me instruction for my life but gives me instructions for how I am to lead those that He has put me in charge of. This intimate time with God is needed for every Christian. It is what builds every Christian and helps them grow in their faith.
PRAYING WITH FELLOW BELIEVERS
Prayer, however, is not just a personal practice but one that can and should be done with fellow believers. Corporate prayer opens the door for God’s Spirit to unify all those that are seeking Him in prayer and as they pray to the Father, the Father’s blessing them and unifies them in His name. Without prayer we will not know who we are in Christ and what He wants for our life, because without prayer we can never truly and intimately know Him.
Prayer is how we communicate with God and how He in return communicates back to us. Prayer is not a one-sided conversation. Furthermore, prayer does not start with us, as prayer is our response to God and what He has done for us.
GOD SEEKS A RELATIONSHIP WITH US
Since the beginning, God has called us to Him and spoken with us. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we can see God seeking us. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to Him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 3:8a, 9). God was looking for His creation because He is always seeking to have a relationship with us.
It is in this calling to His children that God opens the door for prayer and our response. This dialogue format is extremely clear when we understand that this was the main reason for the salvation of the world through Christ. God set forth a plan to bring back His children into communion with Him.
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.
Prayer is protection. If Christian leaders neglect to come before God and humble themselves and their hearts before Him, they will not be able to resist the Devil and will quickly lose sight of God. If a leader does not have constant communion with the Father, they leave themselves vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. These attacks will quickly destroy and corrupt the leaders without them ever realizing, as they never went to God to be examined.
Therefore, Christian leaders must pray the prayer of “The Prayer of Examen.” This is a prayer in which we, with God, take a look back at our lives and see where God has worked in it. Then we ask God to reveal and bring light to problems and things that are keeping us apart from God. If a leader does not ask God to reveal to them what burdens them and what is keeping them from being closer to Christ, they will never be able to grow in spiritual maturity.
BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING
Christian leaders who choose to leave the life unexamined will face enormous attacks on their lives. They will feel overwhelmed and broken. For this reason Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6, 7). In this scripture Paul is demonstrating that without prayer we will be anxious about all things. A leader that is anxious and apart from God will not be an emotionally healthy leader or an effective leader.
THE CHURCH MUST COME TOGETHER AS ONE
Just as Christian leaders must develop a personal and intimate relationship with God, the church must come together as one in Spirit and pray together. A church that does not pray together will not be unified. Referring back to the epistle of James, we see instruction for the church to come together and pray over those that have needs. This is because God knows that we need each other in all things.
Just as a church comes together to worship God, the church must come together and pray to God. For we know through the words of Christ, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). When we gather as a congregation to pray, the Spirit of God is there, and the Holy Spirit within His people unites us. As stated by Paul to the church in Corinth, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13). When we come before God as a church, God comes to us all in one Spirit and unifies us in one Spirit.
UNITY OF SPIRIT AND MIND
A church that refuses or neglects to pray together as one, will not be able to come together in Spirit and mind. Unity of Spirit and mind is crucial to the church, as without it the mission of God cannot be accomplished. On a smaller scale, if a church cannot pray together, they will not be able to worship together. Prayer is worship.
Prayer is one of the most intimate forms of worship in which we open our hearts to God. If the church is not willing to open their hearts together to God, they will not be able to grow and mature in the faith. Very quickly, this church that does not pray together will lose the guidance of the Spirit and be taken by the enemy.
WATCH AND PRAY
Christ warns us of this. He pleads with His disciples and says, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). He pleads with them because they will establish the first church that we find in Acts. He knows of the dangers of having a church filled with men and women that do not pray. Furthermore, Paul goes on to say, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Prayer is not something we “should” do as a church but is something that we need to do.
CONNECT WITH GOD
Prayer is how we connect with God and how God can guide us, our leadership, and our churches. Prayer is a lifestyle of communion with God in which we develop a deep intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father with the goal of becoming friends with Him. Without prayer, we will lose sight of what God has planned for our lives. We will lose sight of how God wants us to lead the people He has given us to lead. Without prayer, the church will fail to accomplish the mission of God. Prayer is more than a moment of contact with God. It is where we build our intimate relationship with him as an individual, leader, and church.
Foster, Richard. Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home. New York, HarperCollins, 1992.
NKJV, Thomas Nelson, 2017.
Treier, Daniel and Walter Elwell. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker