Why is prayer so vital to the church and to our lives? I believe we can see three reasons, with today's devotional being the first, based on Acts10:
1. Prayer Empowers Us.
Peter and Cornelius were both praying when God saw fit to empower both of them. He empowered Peter to see that indeed God shows no partiality. He was empowered to go beyond his prejudiced heart. Peter was changed by his vision and was prepared to see where God was leading him, but his vision only came because he was in prayer.
We should pray, NOT primarily so to change the world or change the heart of God. Rather, we should pray because our hearts are desperately wicked and it’s me, it is me, it is me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.
C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time-waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me."
One of the biggest scandals I believe in the church today is not pornography, not adultery, not envy, but idolatry. Most Christians, myself included, do not follow after heavenly Father, but rather our own hedonistic feelings. Amen?
Let me give you a test:
If I were to tell you that tonight that Joel Olsteen or Dave Ramsey or Rick Warren or David Jeremiah were going to be at your church tonight...
Would you go?
In addition to one of those preachers being there, suppose that your pastor said he has been blessed by an anonymous donor who wanted to help the congregation get out of debt and your pastor was going to give out $1,000 to the first 250 people who came...
Now, would you go?
How many of you would pray about coming to church tonight? “Dear Lord, you know I am in debt. I want to ask you, is it Your will for me to come back tonight?” Most of you would not even think about praying about it and a large majority probably would go up to church as soon as you heard to make sure you were first in line.
Would you feel “led to come”?
Yet, most would never come to church if all they were doing is praying.
My point is this: Most Christians are not led by the Spirit of God, but they are led by Christian preachers or greed or even by their personal feelings and all of those things which take the place of God are, simply and surely, idolatry.
The number one reason we should pray is because our heart is desperately wicked and we need to pray as David did in Ps. 51: 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
If a thousand dollars would bring you to church, but not the preached word, or a call to prayer, then we must really think what it is that motivates us to go.
Peter had a hunger, a strong hunger, while he was praying. He could have stopped praying to meet his need, but he didn’t. The lusts of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life can get us to turn away from prayer but it can also get us when we are afflicted to turn to God in prayer.
Look at James 5:13 “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” Verse 14 says our afflictions should prompt us to call others, the elders of the church, to pray.