Pray. It's one of the first things we learn to do upon believing in Jesus Christ. Perhaps whoever introduced you to Jesus led you in your very first prayer. Simple though it likely was, that prayer was life-changing. It was your initial response to God's extraordinary act of saving you.
That was a good start.
But what about since then? Have you continued the conversation with God? If so, how often do you connect with Him in prayer? Occasionally, like on holidays? Monthly, maybe? Weekly? What about daily?
Daily Prayer: What's the Big Deal?
If you do pray daily, good for you! There’s certainly much to pray for, and there is no such thing as too much prayer (or too many pray-ers). However, the quality of our prayers counts just as much as the frequency. No, we need not wax eloquent with God; simple prayers, like that first one, can be very effective. As with everything else in the Christian life, it’s a matter of the heart.
Regardless of your current prayer rhythm or proficiency, the fact is prayer is extremely important, and every believer should practice it daily.
But why? What does it matter if we pray every day or not? Surely our compassionate, gracious, merciful God understands that we're busy . . . and tired . . . and short on time . . . and busy . . . and . . . Besides, God can read our minds. Can't He? Aren't our good thoughts and intentions enough? Who's keeping track, anyway?
I'll tell you who's keeping track -- Satan. He loves it when we don't pray. He's really good at convincing us that prayer need not be a priority. He's a pro at distracting us from it . . . from God. The devil wants our attention and affection on anyone or anything else.
Every day that we don't pray is a small victory for Satan. And that is no small thing.
The Original Case for Daily Prayer
If you're not familiar with how this devil cut his venomous teeth, here's a brief recap of what God tells us in Genesis 2-3.
Way back in the good ol' days, the Lord God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the place He had lavishly prepared for them, complete with everything they needed to thrive, including instructions. Sadly though, after having one brief conversation with a surprisingly convincing lesser lifeform (the devil in disguise), these first humans made a very poor decision. Consequently, the whole world was infected with evil.
Whoa! That was too easy! How did this happen so quickly? It seems this man and woman didn't know God very well. Their entire experience with Him had been only good, and yet, in less than a minute, they forgot all of that and chose to believe a lying, serpentine stranger. If only they had called out to God first . . .
That day, Satan seized an opportunity and wedged his way between God and humanity. That relationship wrecker has been getting in the way ever since. In fact, he continues to pull this proven ploy on us every day. If we want to stop falling for his cold-blooded tricks, we must get with God daily.
Daily Prayer Enables Us to Discern God's Voice.
We are so blessed to have our pastors and community of fellow believers to help us understand who God is, who we are, and the world we live in. But we must also have our own intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. He already knows us, but we need to know Him well so that we can discern whether the message fits God's character when the devil comes around claiming to speak for Him (Genesis 3:1-5).
There are three basic components to building and maintaining strong, trusting relationships: 1) time together, 2) good communication, and 3) mutual commitment. If any of these essential elements are missing in our relationship with the Lord, we leave the door open for sssssssssomeone bad to slither in and sabotage a really good thing.
These days, God speaks to us primarily through Scripture, so if you're not reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis, you're not listening to Him, and your communication will be less than effective. Beware: Satan likes to open windows, too. He’ll access your mind through the smallest spaces and feed you words that he’s put into God's mouth.
Daily Prayer is Worship.
When you intentionally and consistently spend quality time with God in authentic, meaningful prayer, you will come to realize that He is infinitely better than you ever thought. You'll increasingly sense His delight in you, and He will fill your heart and blow your mind.
Continually developing your relationship with God through prayer is worth the effort. He is worth it. He is worthy. You will not be sorry when you draw near to God in prayer and worship Him. Satan won't be happy about it, though. Because when you focus on God and give Him praise and gratitude and love, the devil’s weapons become worthless.
Daily Prayer Exposes Our Enemies and Empowers Us.
The Genesis account reveals the threat humanity has faced since the beginning of time. A walking, talking snake in the grassy garden was just the beginning; the Bible informs us that now we actually have three relentless enemies (Ephesians 2:2-3):
1) The physical world (Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17): We live in a harsh, corrupted environment that we share with other fallen humans who rebel against God and hurt one another. And just as God warned . . . death reigns here.
2) The flesh: Our minds and bodies have urges and appetites that compel us to sin against our Maker and harm each other and ourselves (Romans 8:5-8; Ephesians 2:3-4).
3) And, the devil: We've already talked about him, but just so there's no confusion, this powerful spiritual entity is also known as "the evil one" (1 John 5:19), "the ruler of this world" (John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 5:19), "the father of lies" (John 8:44), "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), "a murderer" (John 8:44), "the accuser" (Revelation 12:10), "the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10), "your adversary . . . [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8), and "that ancient serpent . . . the deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
Uh-oh. It looks like we're outnumbered 3-to-1. Oh, wait -- I forgot to add the legions of demons who work for Satan. Do we even have a prayer to win this war?
A word to the wise: Do not try to take on these foes alone (like Adam and Eve did).
Good thing we are never left alone with our enemies (Psalm 23:4)! Our good, good God is not just a visitor in His world; He is always with us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). By faith in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God -- the Lord of Heavenly Hosts -- now lives in us (Romans 8:9)! We can confidently claim over and over again, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Through the spiritual practice of prayer, we can boldly approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) every day, at any time, and ask for anything (John 15:7; John 16:23; 1 John 5:14), knowing that there is nothing too hard for the Lord God Almighty (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37). We have everything we need for victory!
This is who we are in Christ: victorious warriors! Jesus promised that as we abide in Him, and His words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish, and it’s as good as done (John 15:7). Whom shall we fear (Psalm 27:1; 1 Peter 5:7)?
Daily Prayer Gives Us the Strategic Advantage.
In prayer, we not only see our enemies at work; we see God at work on our behalf. We are reminded that God is still sovereign, and no one rivals Him -- not even death. We remember that we've been entrusted with His mighty power to conquer evil in the name of Jesus, so we put on the armor of God, confidently march into spiritual battles as one united Church, and fall to our knees (Ephesians 6:10-18).
When we bow before the Lord, our enemies shudder in fear. Yes, it seems counterintuitive because God's ways are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). That's exactly the point.
Our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil) want us to fight dirty. But every time we get down in the dirt before God and submit to His supremacy, we outsmart our opposers and refuse to take their bait. Their plan is foiled, we advance and reclaim what was stolen, and God gets the glory in victory again.
No, praying every day is not easy. Just getting started is a battle on any given day. And every prayer experience is not euphoric. In fact, you might feel like throwing in the prayer shawl or waving the white flag most of the time. But don’t quit. Keep at it until this habit of daily prayer takes hold in your life, and eventually, you will see everything from a higher perspective.
Prevail in Prayer.
Your first prayer was your first "YES" to the God who saved you. It was also your declaration of revolt against the forces of evil who took you captive against your will. That prayer, and every prayer thereafter, is a battle cry proclaiming the blood-bought victory of Christ. The forces of evil hear it and fear. They know their fight is futile; they cannot win.
But that doesn't stop them from launching their daily attacks on you, on your relationships, on your family, your friends, your ministry, your work, your community, your church, your country . . . You might not want to admit that there's a holy war raging between good and evil and we're all smack in the middle of it, but the truth is, we live in a war zone. Failing to fight daily in prayer is like lying down on the battlefield and surrendering to the losing side for no reason.
Our God does not lose! Believe it!
Prove your faith by drawing the sword of the Spirit and drawing down the power of heaven through daily prayer and worship to our loving, living Lord. Put on the whole armor of God and, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, render evil powerless. Holy saints of God, proclaim the excellencies of Him (1 Peter 2:9) whose Kingdom has come!
". . . I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-19).
"Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).