Prayer is essential in our spiritual journey
By: Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson
In order to develop our spiritual lives and to deepen our relationship with God, five factors are necessary – obedience, prayer, Bible study, fellowship and service. Relationships require communication, and our spiritual life is no exception. People of God must be people of prayer!
Spiritual life for all of us begins with the same prayer: “O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” A relationship with Jesus must begin with an acknowledgement that we are sinners and in need of his help. As our spiritual life develops, so must our prayer life. The first disciples asked Jesus to “teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples to pray.” (Luke 11:1) Prayer, or communion with our Lord, must be learned as our relationship deepens – much like our time with our spouse or a close friend. Spending time with God in prayer is essential for us to continue our spiritual journey – drawing closer and becoming more like Christ, restoring the image of God in which we were created.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is part of God’s response to Solomon’s dedication prayer as the Temple is filled with God’s presence in Jerusalem. It says, Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked says, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. There are several lessons concerning prayer we can learn. First, by joining “humble,” “seek” and “turn from wicked ways” with prayer, we learn that prayer is more than communication. Prayer is humble acknowledging that we cannot live our own way, but we must turn, or repent, and seek God’s presence. This is the essence of prayer before we say our first word. The second lesson comes from the word “if.” Prayer is a choice – we can bow before God and call on him as Lord, or we can ignore him and pretend that we are our own masters. The if/then aspect of this verse also teaches that God’s response is not a given, but that God has promised to “hear,” “forgive” and “heal.” It is also true that without prayer there is not forgiveness or healing.
So then, why are God’s people praying less and less? Why is the prayer meeting (if it is on the corps calendar) the hardest event of the week for people to attend? Why has prayer become, “bless us, bless the offering, bless our going out – amen?” Every great movement in Church history has been preceded by prayer, but it is missing from our calendars. Ask anyone who has been on this spiritual journey if they have any regrets and the No. 1 response would be, “We didn’t pray more!” So, in your personal life, in your corps life, in your family, in your community – pray more tomorrow than you did yesterday. God is waiting for you to spend time with him!