On the Need for Prayer

A significant part of my “missionary” work involves helping Christian families to regain their spiritual and relational equilibrium in the midst of, or following a crisis. This aspect of my work has been particularly active in the last several months, and it has caused me to reflect upon the range of tools we have for building and maintaining family unity and strength.

I believe that the most powerful means of stability and healing in the family is prayer, and I think it is a very under-utilized resource and means of intervention. I know many men who recognize their need to pray, and yet, even though their families are struggling, they do not exercise their will in the discipline of prayer. In the counseling context, the attitude toward prayer is often something like, “I know that prayer would help, but it is so hard to find the time…I will try to do better at that…what else, of a practical nature, can I do?” There are two themes of critical importance embedded in this statement. One is the grave misconception that prayer is not itself a “practical” endeavor. The other is the idea of prayer as an activity that “would help”.

I know of a pastoral counselor who, when meeting a Christian couple desiring marriage counseling, will begin treatment only after the two have first devoted an entire weekend to strategic prayer for their marriage. His rationale is that this typically yields one of three results, either they come back truly and humbly prepared for the work of addressing the issues in their relationship, or they inform him after this assignment that the Lord has softened their hearts and given them direction on how to proceed in working through their difficulties on their own. And the third result? Frequently this assignment proves too costly (or too unsophisticated) and the couple looks elsewhere for assistance.

Prayer is not a devotional activity that “would help”, it is the primary means of the believer’s sanctification. In prayer–the kind of soul-crying prayer we read in Psalm 51, our knowledge of God and the truths of His Word, are brought from our minds to our hearts. Real prayer, the prayer that forsakes self and seeks to draw near to the bosom of God, to hear Him and to see Him and to know Him and to be conformed to Him, is a revolutionary activity. If we pray in spirit and truth, we cannot remain the same.

There is a little church that Colleen and I attended when we were in college. We used to say that one could not go in the door there on a Sunday and come out with an unchanged heart, because the Spirit of God was so powerfully at work in the midst of these people.

Prayer is like that: enter into worshipful prayer, confessing prayer, and prayer that longs for the will of God to be done in one’s self as well as the world, and you cannot remain unchanged.

Struggling families need to pray hard. Parents with straying children need to pray hard. Youth who are struggling with questions of identity and purpose need to pray hard. And all of us need to learn to pray like David prayed, not just informing God of our supposed needs, but laying our hearts before Him as a heart disease patient surrenders to the scalpel of the surgeon.

The Lord is calling His remnant church today to prayer. It is not enough to make lifestyle choices or to wear the habits of Christian disciplines. God is calling us to nothing short of holiness, to full-blown flat-on-our-faces living sacrifice, and this call can only be fully answered through lives of consistent communing with God, informed by His Word, washed clean by His blood, trained to His side through prayer.


3 Responses to “On the Need for Prayer”

  1. Jean Says:

    This truly is one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever read. Right to the heart of the issue and very humbling. Thank you.

    Blessings, Jean

  2. Theresa Says:

    I agree with Jean and thank you, too, for sharing what you are learning as you counsel families in crisis, as well as pointing us back to the basics in our Christian life – the power of prayer. Not just in the area of material or financial needs, but relational needs. Who doesn’t have someone in their life in need of prayer and what parent doesn’t have a child in need of extra prayer, whether it be a toddler in need of learning obedience, a school age child struggling with some issue or an attitude problem of one family member or another?

    Thank you and blessings to you and yours.

    The Goulds

  3. ourfatherscovenant Says:

    AMEN Brother! Your dedication and love for the truth shines through your passionate call to prayer and holy living.

    May the Lord continue to richly Bless you and all those you come into contact with…just as the little church you mentioned in your story. May we all learn to emulate that kind of Holy Spirit filled Power from the Father and His precious Son. His sheep hear His voice and will become more Power filled everyday….press on!

    Thank you again,
    Brotherly Love!

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