The Lord had a busy public ministry. His popularity with the common people meant that they pressed in on him whenever they could, seeking to receive healing from him and to hear him preach.
In spite of this, we read in the scriptures: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).”
Prayer held a vital part in the Lord’s earthly life. He taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:5-15). He poured His heart out and agonised in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, not long before His arrest (Luke 22:44).
His apostles also urge the saints to pray. Paul spoke plainly in these words: “Pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17).” Elsewhere the apostle exhorted the church:
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Php 4:6-7).”
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col 4:2).”
Yes, we know that we ought to pray. The Lord has set us the perfect example of an obedient life saturated in prayer. The inspired writers have many times exhorted us to pray.
Let every one of us, then, examine our hearts: do we pray as we ought to? Is prayer an indispensable habit and spiritual discipline, or is it something rushed through or neglected?
A long prayer is not necessarily a good prayer and vice versa, but before we even wonder about the length of our prayers, let’s be sure that we are praying without ceasing, that is, have an attitude and readiness to pray at all times.
The church is blessed to have many talented brothers and sisters serving in so many capacities. We thank our Father for His multiple blessings and gifts. Nonetheless, if we neglect prayer, our fervent service means little or nothing.
One of the greatest spiritual blessings we have in Christ is prayer. Prayer is given to us so that as the children of God we can communicate with our heavenly Father. Think about what it cost for us to have such a blessing.
The Hebrews writer explains:
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb 10:19-22).”
Let’s ponder over this momentous statement. We have confidence to enter the holiest, i.e. the presence of God, by the blood of Jesus. By the blood of Jesus! The only begotten Son of God shed His blood on the cross—this is what it cost for us to have the privilege and blessing of prayer.
Is it then unreasonable to say that we would very much be ungrateful if we neglect prayer? Is it too much to say that we would be holding the blood of the Lord in contempt if we think so little of prayer?
We are given another reason why we ought to pray without ceasing. The Lord is our high priest. As our high priest, He is our mediator before the Father. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti 2:5-6).”
John summarises this astounding doctrine in these wonderful words:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:1-2).”
Jesus Christ gave His life as the ransom for our sins but He does more. He is our advocate with the Father, our mediator before the Father. The marvellous truth of our high priest is that He understands very well our struggles, our fears and our joys.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:14-16).”
Here at the feet of our heavenly Father, before His throne, with the Lord Jesus as our high priest and having been washed in His blood, we may be confident that our Father will hear us and supply us with the grace to help in time of need.
Peter says to us: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:6-7).”
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph 6:18).”
Our Father wants us to be fervent in prayer. Let us do as the children of God and pray without ceasing.