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Do You Pray?

prayer u“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6, NLT


Do you pray?

Isn’t it interesting that this simple question causes all kinds of things to be stirred up in our hearts? Sunday we discussed two common reactions:

#1. Defensiveness

 You might find yourself on the defensive, with your mind racing to remember all the times you have prayed over the last week… or month…or was it a year? I can’t remember!

Perhaps we feel defensive because we are trying to justify our spirituality or maybe we feel a nagging sense of guilt over our lack of true prayer.

#2. Spiritual “To Do” List

For some, they place prayer on their daily list of chores to check off upon completion. When prayer is viewed as a chore to be accomplished you miss the essence of prayer and set yourself up for perpetual failure.

We said prayer is not as much about what you are DOING, but about who you are BEING. Our prayer life reveals the health of our heart connection with our heavenly Father.  A healthy prayer life is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

Prayer is the Sign of Spiritual Life

Compare the practice of prayer with natural childbirth. The very first sign of life in a newborn is the act of breathing. For the believer, prayer should be as natural as breathing.

In fact, prayer is absolutely needful to an individual’s salvation. While salvation is by grace, you don’t receive this gift without asking for it. So prayer marks the start of our relationship with God and prayer sustains us throughout our journey through life.

This is not true for the unsaved. In fact, the Bible tells us the wicked “Call not upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 14:4)

While prayer itself does not remove the possibility that it is heartless or even hypocritical [Jesus condemned the Pharisees for honoring Him with their lips but having hearts that were far from Him], the absence of prayer is clear proof that a man is not yet converted.

A pastor may preach from false motives. An author may write books from false motives. A religious person may “worship” from false motives. However, a person will seldom go into her closet and pour out her heart before God in secret unless she is sincere and genuine. The prayer closet is hidden from the eyes of men (Matt. 6:6).

Go Minister to Saul, the Christian Killer!

 Can you imagine receiving the assignment Ananias received from Jesus to go and minister to the notorious, ruthless Christian killer, Saul of Tarsus! I can just imagine his initial response, “Is that you, Lord? Ugh, how saved and sanctified is he? What if he backslides while I am there? How do you really know he is a changed man?”

When Jesus sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now.(Acts 9:11)

How did Ananias know that Saul was truly converted? The Lord said, “He’s talking to me right now!”

How can you determine if you have truly been born again? How do you know whether you are really a Christian? Ask yourself this question – Do you pray?

Prayer University

 I find it interesting that out of all the things Jesus’ disciples could have asked Him, they asked Him for some lessons on how to develop a prayer life with God.

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1 (NLT)

Notice it didn’t say, “Lord teach us HOW to pray, but TO pray.” This is a huge difference. We learn to pray, like we learn most everything else in life, by doing it.

And that is exactly what I am encouraging you to do with greater focus and greater reliance upon the Lord. Let’s pray!

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