As believers in Christ, we are called to be warriors for His name. Our job is to stand up against the evil of the world and share the Good News that one day we will once again live in a perfect land of peace, joy, and harmony. We resist Satan's fiery arrows with our shields of faith, breastplate of righteousness, and helmet of salvation. We prepare our feet with readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. Our waist is buckled with the belt of truth. But we don't stop there. No, we not only resist evil, we fight evil with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. We are warriors. Our lives aren't easy, but we will stand together and declare the truth. When hard times come our way (and they will!), we won't back down, retreat, or fall away. We will stand tall with our shoulders thrown back and our face towards the sunrise declaring our allegiance to the one true God.
While all of that is extremely vital as Christians, is that all we should be doing? Is resisting evil and standing up for good the only task that we have?
For some reason, it seems that we often stop there. In the middle of the book of Galatians, we pause and sit back with a smile on our face. What a worthy goal! What a glorious calling!
Even so, we often forget the very next verse.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying..." –Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis mine)
What powerful words! We are to pray on all occasions. Always.
What does "always" mean? A book I read today explains it nicely (and you know I love lists!)...
"It means pray and pray a lot! Pray when you're alone. Pray when you're with a lot of people. Pray when you're in small groups. Pray on your way in; pray on your way out. Pray in your closet, in your car, at your desk. Pray morning prayers, pray mealtime prayers, pray in between mealtimes. Pray fervently, expectantly, and unself-consciously. Pray when you're burdened, worried, sick, or brokenhearted. Pray when you're soaring, setting records, or dancing on a mountaintop. Pray when you're up, and pray when you're down. Pray when you're healthy, when you're sick, when you feel like it, and when you don't. (Especially when you don't.)" –Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room
I have a friend in Ecuador whom I love dearly. We have been writing letters back and forth for more than eight years! Even after such a long time, every letter I receive is better than the last. When I open the mail box, my eyes light up if I see a pale, yellow envelope with my name on the front. I force myself to finish school, my mind always imagining what is inside. And then the time comes. I throw open the letter, the eyes devouring every word. If there is a picture, I treasure it, eagerly showing my friend's smile to everyone willing to look. After all these years, I have saved every single letter because they are very precious to me! Every sentence shares my friend's thoughts, desires, dreams, and love. As I read her words shared on paper, my own heart grows closer to hers. Even though we have never met, I love her as my own sister.
THAT is why prayer is important. The #1 way you can build a relationship with Jesus is through talking with Him. (Talking to someone versus with someone is completely different, but I can't cover that in this post) It is impossible to have a thriving friendship with someone without spending time talking to one another. If you have an acquaintance whom you don't speak with regularly, you will probably discover that your friendship is not very strong.
How can we get to know God on an intimate level without talking to Him? How can we love what He loves and hate what He hates without knowing what His plans are? How can we represent Jesus to the world around us if we don't know who Jesus is?
God has already written a beautiful love letter for us – the Bible! He shares His plans for the future, His immense affection for those who follow Him, His sorrow when His children stray from Him, and the perfect plan of salvation that He created for us. All this, God penned for us – His children. Why? Because God wants a relationship with us! If that doesn't blow your mind away, realize what that means. The Creator of the universe, the great I AM, the One who died for You, wants to know YOU personally!!! Is there any greater news?
Being a warrior for God is so important. The world needs us to take a stand and declare what we believe in. But we will not be effective unless we know Who we are fighting for. We will only be true warriors if we are reading God's battle plan (the Bible) and talking constantly to Him.
Many people feel distant from God. I know that I often feel the same way. Oddly, the times I feel that my relationship with Him is not where it should be are also the times that my prayer life is lacking. I have never been very faithful at prayer, but it is something that I am going to work on diligently. Will you join me?
Is your prayer life hot, cold, or somewhere in between? How has prayer blessed you in your personal life? Do you have any other thoughts on prayer? Comment below!