Our great need for prayer

Our great need for prayer

As part of working through the Sermon on the Mount recently, it has struck me how difficult this blueprint for being a disciple really is. It is indeed a narrow and difficult road spent following Jesus. All the values that kingdom people are supposed to hold to are the opposite of what our sinful natures want. We want to hate enemies, while Jesus calls us to love them. We want to seek the things of this life first, while Jesus calls us to seek the things of his kingdom first. For our values and lives to start to line up with what God calls us to, we need the help of the Holy Spirit.

I think that is why the familiar section of the Sermon on the Mount at the start of chapter 7 is where it is. After outlining the seemingly impossible values and life that all Christians need to aspire to, Jesus gives the means for us to do this. It is not just effort and self-denial; it is prayer. We are to ask and then receive, seek and then find. God is our perfect Father who knows what is best for us and loves to give us things that are good and useful. When we ask, we know we won’t receive something useless (like a stone) or evil (like a snake). So, we are to ask. And keep on asking.

Prayer is the foundation of the Christian life. Christians need to pray. I know that’s not saying anything surprising, but we need to pray. The reality is that we are sinful and weak people who need God’s help in all kinds of ways. Prayer is not just about building our dependence on God (though it does do that); God actually listens to our prayers and answers us.

One reason we do not have what we should from God is that we do not ask (James 4:2). Sometimes we self-censure and don’t ask for things that we should ask for. God is not too busy to listen to his children. He is capable of whatever we ask. Don’t feel like you are imposing; like a small child, just ask God for what you want.

Of course, it is possible that our requests are silly or selfish or just not right for us at the time. A good father will realise that often his children will ask him for things that are foolish. That doesn’t mean that he will be angry with the request! It just means that he won’t grant it. If one of my children asked to play with fire, I would say no; not because I am mean and unreasonable, but because I love them and know that is something that could harm them. Likewise, we should ask God for things and leave it up to God’s wisdom as to whether to grant them. Trust that he knows better than we do about what we truly need.

Pray. You need God’s help more than you think you do.