The other day, I put together a top ten list of things a pastor should and could do to stay healthy and effective, listed in no particular order. The first one on the list is to Pray fervently.
Jesus demonstrated and taught on prayer multiple times in the gospels. Even though He was inundated with the sick, the poor, the curious, and those who would oppose Him, Jesus would often go off to pray. He prayed before choosing the twelve. He prayed and enjoyed intimacy with the Father. He even prayed to affirm and submit to the Father’s will.
So why don’t we pray like we should? Why is the prayer life of the Christian and even the church leader so sparse and spotty? We know we should pray, and we want to pray, yet we don’t do what we want or know to do.
We don’t pray like we should because even as Christians, we are fighting the battle of the flesh. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” The truth is that our sinful flesh wants to be independent of God, while God wants us to be dependent. Though we might want to be self sufficient and self reliant and self indulgent, we need to constantly remind ourselves that God’s grace is sufficient, autonomous, and glorifying of God.
So let me encourage you: recognize that the lack of prayer is a battle of the flesh, and go directly to the heart of the matter: repent and submit. Prayer is submission, plain and simple, It’s a submission to God and a recognition of His sovereignty. It’s a intimacy in the Spirit and a growth of one’s faith. It’s a passion for God who had a passion for you.
You are locked in a spiritual battle that will be resolved only after Christ’s return. Just as a soldier wouldn’t go into battle without being equipped, you need to be equipped spiritually. In fact, without being equipped, it’s just plain scary. Put on that full armor, “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18) and increase your dependence and intimacy with the One who loved you and gave His Son for you.