By James Holland Sr.
When we pray, we open a door for God to begin to work in our lives. We build our faith by praying in the Holy Ghost. Jesus placed great importance on the subject of prayer. The scriptures are replete with the subject of prayer. When should we pray? Jesus declared, “We should pray always that we enter not into temptation”. That is we are to develop a mindset of prayer so that we can engage in prayer at any given time. There is strong indication in scripture that early morning prayer is very effective.
It is also very challenging to the individual who is engaging in prayer. If we pray first thing each morning before we get into the business of the day, we will normally deal with the day better. We will find it much easier to praise God throughout the day. We will also have a better understanding of what God wants to do that day. In Job 1:6 we are told that at the break of day the angels of the Lord appear before the Lord each day for instructions. Can we do any less? Jacob had a vision of this when he saw a ladder reaching up into heaven and he saw angels descending and ascending. These angels were the ministering spirits of the Lord.
The scriptures declare that the “steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord”. God’s ministering spirits go before us to direct our path. However, if we don’t know which way the angel is going, then it will be difficult to follow them. This is where prayer comes in. The angel of the Lord will clear the way for us, if we follow. If not, we will try to clear our own way. Praying first thing in the morning gives us victory before we even get into a battle.
According to scripture, there is tremendous spiritual activity going on before the breaking of the day. In Genesis 19:15, we see the angel leading Lot and his family out of Sodom. While Lot and his family were still asleep, God had already given the angels direction. Think about this. Had Lot slept in that day, they would have perished. There seems to be too many sleeping in the kingdom. Something needs to wake them up. I have often wondered how many people would come to church if the service started at daybreak or before. We need to remember God does not always use the most talented or those with the greatest ability. Who then does He use? Those who show up. Prayer is the battle. It is not preparation for the battle. In prayer we determine what kind of church service we are going to have. This is why people that never show up for prayer often wonder why we are so excited during the church service. It is in prayer that we get our directions for that day, that service, or whatever we are praying for. So show up for prayer early each morning and before church service.
When we don’t pray, our spiritual sensitivity becomes dull. Many in the kingdom spend a lot of energy and time trying to second-guess what they need to do. If they would pray, it would be revealed and they would have spiritual insight. This is a great challenge to all of us. We must, regardless of schedules and activities, spend time in God’s presence. Our longevity and effectiveness in God’s kingdom is determined by the amount of time we spend in God’s presence. It is there that new strength, new vision, new sensitivity, and new hope come to us. Isaiah 26:9 says, “with my spirit within me will I seek thee early”. Would it be reasonable to think if we get up early to take a trip or to go hunting or fishing, that we should also be able to rise early and talk with God? You see, there is a mind set within Christianity that must be broken. It is this “when I get around to it” and “when I have time I will pray” attitude that must be changed.
Prayer cannot simply be discussed; it must be engaged in. This kind of mind set is what causes people to just casually come in after service starts and yet wonder why they spend half of the service, if not all of it, trying to plug into the flow of the Spirit. Had there been time spent in prayer, they would have already been in agreement with what God had ordered for that service on that day. We can’t survive without God’s direction. We are like fish out of water or a plant out of the soil. If we will build an alter early each day and seek the face of God, we will know the will of God and what He wants to do in our lives.
Joshua and his army marched around the walls of Jericho at the break of day. So let me challenge you to stop wasting time each day trying to figure out what God would have you to do. Get into His presence first thing each day. It takes discipline and commitment daily. After all, we are talking about being mature in our spiritual walk, right?
Prayer is hard work. That is why some simply will not pray. Prayer changes us first, then the things for which we are praying. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t develop a powerful prayer life all at once. The key to developing a prayer life is to simply continue praying. Our prayer life has to be developed. It is an on going process as we engage in it daily, one day at a time. Those who are discouraged easily will have great difficulty in developing a prayer life. We are commanded to pray, not just in times of need or when we feel like it, but every day.
In Matthew 26:36-46 we read the account of Jesus asking three of His disciples to help Him pray. I might add, one of the few times while on earth that He asked for help. Of course, Peter, James and John failed the test. How badly they must have felt. Yet we can’t be powerful and pitiful too. It is important to notice how Jesus handled this matter. He says in verse 41, “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (NKJV). He is warning us that our greatest enemy in prayer is our flesh. Look then at verse 43. “And he came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy”. Our eyes get heavy with much carnal sight and very little spiritual sight. Had these men really known what was about to happen, they most certainly would have shaken themselves and prayed. Jesus continues in verse 45, “are you still sleeping and resting?” They had no idea what was about to take place. So it is today, a church that won’t pray has no idea of what is about to happen in their world or in the spiritual realm. Prayer is a must!
Here is the good news. Even if we, like these disciples , have started out good with a prayer life and yet have become weary with it, maybe even failed in continuing to pray, we don’t have to stay in that defeated stage for the rest of our lives. Jesus says to these disciples in verse 46, “Rise, let us be going”. He is saying two important things. First of all, the enemy is coming against us whether we pray or not. Secondly, even if we have failed at praying, we need to get up and try again, because there are many more things that God wants to bring into fruition in our lives, but we will never even recognize them unless we pray! So if you are not there yet, remember the words of Jesus, “Let us be going”. I challenge you to get going with prayer. Prayer is the channel that God uses to release His will in us, and it is the channel we use to release our faith to Him.
This article “Victory through Prayer” was excerpted from the book The Battle for Spiritual Maturity written by James Holland, Sr. It may be used for study & research purposes only.