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September 23, 2019

 

Prayer Reality Check

My Dear Friend,

     Billy Graham noted, “Jesus prayed briefly when He was in a crowd; He prayed a little longer when He was with His disciples; and He prayed all night when He was alone. Today, many in the ministry tend to reverse that process." Here is a perfect reality check for us.

     Do we, as Graham suggests, talk (or write) often about prayer in public ministry or conversation and then neglect it in private? Or do we pray long, sermonic prayers loaded with heavy devotional or theological language when around other Christians and then toss two-minutes' worth of hurried selfish petitions at God - with no waiting in His presence, no worship, no thanksgiving, no kingdom requests, no interceding for others' needs - when alone with Him? And that only when adversities or the demands of ministry force us to do so?

     If we don't watch ourselves, spiritual hypocrisy will creep up on us until suddenly one day we wake up and realize our praying is far behind our preaching. O my!

     It is through private prayer that we receive needed conviction, correction, and spiritual readjustment, and fresh infusions of Christ's life that keep us fresh, inspired, and inspirers of the uninspired. Without this private prayer life we have no potent ministry life.

     Jesus explicitly called us to a hidden life of secret prayer: "When thou prayest, enter into thy room, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, who is in secret..." (Matthew 6:6). He promised His Father would give private petitioners public proofs: "And thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6). To further inspire us to commit to secret prayer He revealed, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (6:8). This was Christ's concept of prayer.

     Does this mean we shouldn't pray in public? Or that all public praying is Pharisaic and displeasing to Christ? No, it simply means our house of public prayer - praying over our meals, in church meetings, in prayer meetings, in public gatherings, on street corners, on radio or television or the Internet! - should be built on a solid foundation of visiting and talking with God daily in the secret place. This authenticates our public prayers and our preaching on prayer.

     Paul's concept of prayer adds another twist: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Or "Pray regularly" (CJB), or "Pray continually" (NIV), or "Never stop praying" (NLT). And Paul practiced what he preached! He assured the Colossians he was "praying always for you," and again, "we...do not cease to pray for you" (Colossians 1:3, 9). This leads us to the focal point of this message.

     Will we submit to this biblical prayer reality check? Will we be humble enough to acknowledge any prayer deficiency we may have and with childlike simplicity, yet the highest wisdom, adopt Jesus' and Paul's inspired concepts of prayer?

     If so, then let us pray, this day, every day, at daybreak, at noon, in the evening. In prosperity and adversity. In blessings and tribulations. When ecstatic and when grieving. When favored by men and when forgotten. When answers are seen and when they're delayed. In our offices and on the go. Before and after ministering. In the presence of believers and nonbelievers. Not just publicly but also in the secret place, in our prayer room, in our hidden inner sanctum where we commune with God. Not haphazardly but habitually. Not just before men's eyes and ears but daily, hourly, always before our Father's listening ears and powerful eyes that sweep the earth searching for God-fearers - and responding openly to their secret requests according to His will (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Praying this day,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261
1-336-882-1645