How often should I pray? How long should I pray? And do my prayers even make a difference? While these are the questions that we often ask when it comes to prayer, the problem is that they are the wrong place to start. We should not think of prayer as a religious act to be ticked off or a laborious chore that must be endured or a way of getting what we want from God. Instead, we should remember that prayer is a wonderful privilege of being in God’s family.
In the book of Hebrews, we’re reminded that because Jesus is our high priest, we can ‘approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time’ (Heb 4:16). Take a moment now to picture the scene described in this verse. Imagine the holy, glorious, powerful God of the universe seated on his throne and then imagine a lowly human approaching – someone who is sinful, finite and of little significance. The wonderful privilege of Christians is that we can approach the throne of God with boldness, not on our own merit, but because of what Jesus has done. As we remember the wonderful privilege of prayer, a better question to ask is why we find it so hard to pray?!?
One common obstacle for many people is that we don’t always know what to pray. In fact, when I don’t make some sort of plan for my prayer, I end up getting distracted and my words descend into meaningless babble! For this reason, I think it’s helpful to work out a system of prayer topics for each day of the week. This may take some time and effort to set up in the beginning, but once it’s established, it may help you become more confident and consistent in your prayer life. Since it’s the beginning of a new year, it’s a great time to work out (or review) your plan for prayer in 2018.
One thing that I’ve found really helpful in this regard, is a mobile phone app called Prayermate. The app allows you to type in all the topics that you would like to pray for regularly, and then the app will schedule a selection of these topics to appear each day.
One of the great features of the app is that you can subscribe to prayer notes from different organisations (e.g. CMS). This year, we’re trialling a prayer point feed for our own church. If you would like to subscribe, please go to www.snac.org.au/prayermate for specific directions. You can find out more information about the app by visiting www.prayermate.net