The Greatest Lesson Ever Learned
by F. Joe Ellis
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. (Luke11: 1)
What a desire! Just exactly what motivated the disciples of Jesus to make such a request can only be speculated. One thing is for sure, however. The need to pray as well as the benefit of prayer had become very evident to them and they wanted to understand it.
Even though almost two thousand years have come and gone since that day, nothing has changed. There is still an earnest cry in the heart of every sincere disciple of Jesus Christ that says… “Lord, teach me to Pray”!
Teach us HOW vs. Teach us TO Pray
There is a vast difference in understanding the mechanics of how to pray and consistently praying. Far too often, special called prayer meetings end up being nothing more than “how to” sessions and more discussion about the need to pray. Almost always, prayer is passionately talked about, preached about, taught about, and even sung about, but very little time is actually spent praying, which was the primary reason for the meeting. As important as it is to understand the need and how to pray, to actually spend time praying is what’s most needed.
What is Prayer Really?
To define prayer and its many benefits is like trying to define God himself. No single writing or volume of writings could ever capture all the truths concerning prayer. So this brief work is not an attempt to do that. There are however a few simple but important keys to prayer that will add a wealth of spiritual value to anyone who will consistently apply them. Please allow me to offer just a few of them for your consideration…
1. Prayer should be a daily priority:
Prayer to the spiritual man is like breath to the natural man. Therefore, prayer should be a daily practice, not a spare time activity. No one ever dies spiritually that does not first quit praying. To not pray is a slow but sure spiritual suicide.
2. Prayer should be a private intimate fellowship, not a public ritual:
True prayer is the means by which we enter into an intimate fellowship and communion with God. Corporate prayer, as important as it is, will never substitute ones need to be alone with God.
3. Prayer should be consistent:
Having a consistent discipline to spend quality time together is the primary ingredient to any healthy relationship. You must spend time with someone if you ever hope to know them on a personal level. Only in the secret closet of consistent daily prayer can our relationship with God be truly developed.
4. Prayer should be fervent:
The Word of God says it best…
James 5:16 KJV …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16 NLT …The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. (Amen! FJE)
Joy and Strength
Two of the greatest benefits of consistent daily prayer are joy and strength. I heard it once said, the Joy of Lord cannot be taught, it must be caught! True Joy is imparted as a result of spending daily intimate fellowship in the presence of God. Remember the joy you felt when you received the Holy Spirit?
…In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11)
Like joy, spiritual strength also comes as a direct result of spending quality time in HIS presence. The bible divinely connects one’s spiritual strength with the level of joy that’s in their life. Oh the benefits that comes from spending time in HIM!
…For the Joy of the LORD is your strength. (Neh 8:10-11)
…But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31)
…And there appeared an angel unto HIM from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly… (Luke 22: 43 – 44)
Jesus understood the power and strength that comes through prayer. What an example HE gave to us! HE refused to quit praying until the will of HIS flesh was completely conquered and HE knew Satan was defeated. Perseverance reached its ultimate achievement when Jesus prevailed in prayer for us.
And being in an agony… HE prayed more Earnestly!
The power of the cross is only made possible today because of the consistent fervent prayer life of Jesus. HIS perseverance in prayer activated angelic help and strength from heaven which enable HIM to endure HIS most difficult trial. I am personally convinced that God has angels waiting and ready to strengthen the 21st century church as we strive to prevail in prayer.
Duty or Desire?
Daily prayer must not be looked at the same way you approach doing laundry, going to work, mowing the grass, or washing a sink full of dirty dishes. Prayer should never be perceived as a dreaded duty that must be done just to stay saved. Prayer is intimate fellowship with God and the greatest privilege ever given to mankind.
The scriptures clearly reveal that prayer is the means by which God enables man to step into the realm of the supernatural. Prayer transcends the limits and boundaries of human ability and power. The more fervent Christians pray the more effective they become as God empowers them. Consistent daily prayer is not only the churches single greatest asset, but it is also her single greatest challenge. Let’s do a self evaluation to make my point…
Personal Prayer Self Test
Please put a check mark in the boxes that best describes you.
_____I only pray at church or during times of personal crisis and need.
___I love to get alone with God in the privacy of my prayer closet.
___The majority of my time spent in prayer is with others.
___I have a time and a place set in my schedule for prayer everyday.
___I seem to only pray in my spare-time or when it’s convenient.
___I have a sincere desire to be in HIS presence everyday.
___I pray more out of duty than out of desire.
___I pray because I want power with God to do HIS Will.
___I pray because I’m afraid of what may happen if I don’t.
___I desire to pray, but struggle at times with my consistency.
___I rarely pray at all, except when I’m at church.
Regardless of who we are an honest evaluation of the above checked statements will reveal many answers concerning your walk with God, past, present, and future. No one ever fails God that does not first fail to pray. Let the evidence speak for itself.
I was greatly challenged by a thought God brought to me recently. What God does when we pray should not be our greatest concern? Our greatest concern should be what will NOT be done because we have failed to prayer.
How many people will not be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth because we have failed to pray? How many spiritual strongholds will not be broken causing people, cities, nations, and even continents to stay in spiritual darkness because we have not prayed? How many more generations of people will cause hell to be enlarged simply because the church has failed to pray? Oh God… Teach us TO PRAY!
What are you waiting for? Stop procrastinating! It’s time to repent for your lack of consistent prayer. Set a time, set a place, and make prayer your number one priority… TODAY! Put away the watch and the duty mentality toward prayer, and begin enjoying the presence of God. HE wants to spend time with you!
Four Pray Tips from the Master
Matt. 6:6-8 (KJV)
1. Don’t pray like the hypocrites.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
2. Enter into your prayer closet in secret.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
3. Don’t pray vain or worthless repetition.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
4. Pray, trusting God to know what you have need of!
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
The modern day Church has learned how to grow crowds, raise money, build buildings, and organize programs. As important as those things may be to the overall effectiveness of the church, they will never substitute the need for consistent personal daily prayer. According to Jesus, prayer is the means by which we effectively conquer the flesh and keep it from falling into the deadly trap of temptation.
Jesus said… pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt. 26:41)
What’s the greatest lesson ever learned? The lesson of…
Consistent Daily Prayer! Lord, teach us “TO” PRAY!
Contact F. Joe Ellis at: FJEWT@purposeinstitute.com
HAVE YOU PRAYED TODAY?