About that time Herod the kind laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts 12:1-5
Our prayer is often dull because there is so little earnestness in it. We pray as if no one is listening. We pray as if nothing will happen. We pray as if nothing were at stake. We pray without vim or vigor, without passion, without purpose. We pray to pass the time not to pull down blessings from heaven.
How often do we gather together with God’s people for the purpose of prayer?
If we are not often gathered for earnest prayer, we must consider why not. Is it because we do not have great needs in this body? Is it because we do not have fears and sins that beset us? Is it because there is no opposition in the world which threatens to snare us or no devil on the prowl who seeks to destroy? Is it because we are sure of ourselves and so self-reliant that we need no divine assistance? Or is it because we consider help from God to be so negligible that it is not worth our time to ask for it? Do we not think God listens when we pray? Do we not think he cares? Do we not think he is more than able to give us grace to help in our time of need?
What is the reason we have this apathy for prayer? Do we not see the critical importance of prayer? Have we forgotten what a privilege we have in prayer? Have we no confidence in the power of prayer? Do we take the example of the early church to be unreachable and impractical? Have we no sense for the blessings that await us in prayer and through prayer? Have we lost sight of the great glory God receives when his people pray? Who knows what new victories we would experience, what divine favor would be ours, what surprising providences we would enjoy if earnest prayer were made to God by the church?
God stands ready to hear us. He is eager to help us. His ways are not always our ways, but his love never fails and his mercies are new every morning. He who is omniscient delights to know our requests. He who is omnipotent acts when we call upon him. He who is omnipresent will never be nearer to us than when we pray.
We must pray, but more than that: we can pray. And God will listen. Why would we not gather often with the body of Christ for earnest prayer?
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
from: Kevin DeYoung
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