Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Purpose of Prayer

Many articles and books have been written concerning prayer, and still the subject can not be exhausted.  The purpose of prayer is also a subject that will elicit a variety of views.  With that in mind, I would like to focus on one story in Isaiah to suggest the twofold purpose of prayer and the need to pray.

 When Hezekiah was the King of Judah, he was facing an insurmountable challenge.  The Assyrian Army was bearing down on him and the people of Judah.  In Isaiah 37, Hezekiah simply prayed, " 17 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! ...20 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power."  A simple prayer and a simple request. What the Lord does is what He commonly does, He changes the impossible situation of man into an easy victory.  For Hezekiah, God answered in this way; "36 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 37 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land."

The purpose of prayer is twofold: 1.) to be God dependent and 2.) to appeal to the Only One who can change things.  To be clear, it would be foolish to suggest that God has to answer our prayers.  For our prayers not getting answered, are themselves an answer from God, even when we can't figure the why question.  We all are no different than Hezekiah, because living in this world means you are living in an impossible situation.

Prayer and being prayed up each day means that you are trusting in the Lord.  If it's His day, then we have to pray.  There is a reason Paul tells us, "Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17)."  We pray continually, because dependence on ourselves, is dependence upon nothing.

We also pray, because only the Lord is able to overcome the impossible.  If individuals and churches don't pray, they are sick and depending upon themselves.  They become the ones that Jesus was constantly referring to as people "of little faith."  One day, God will change everything, in fact, that's His business.  We pray to the Only One who can make things right. ""The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible (Matthew 19:25-26).”"

If this is the reality of prayer, then why don't we pray individually and corporately? What kind of statement are we making about ourselves and our churches when we fail to pray?  What are we saying about what we truly believe in?  Nothing is more critical than praying, for when we do so we depend upon the Only One who can overcome the impossible.

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