From start to finish, the Bible is filled with prayer. According to a Gospel Coalition article, the Bible includes 650 prayers, 450 recorded answers to prayer and 25 different occasions where Jesus prayed during his earthly ministry. In his writing, Paul mentions prayer 41 times. We see Jesus getting up early to pray, and the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Clearly prayer is valued and vital to a close relationship with Jesus.
However, even though prayer is essential, studies indicate that Christians struggle to consistently spend time in prayer. There are many reasons cited, including lack of time, inability to focus, frustration over unanswered prayers, and not knowing how to pray or what to pray for. There are so many books, articles and sermons on prayer available today, but still we can struggle “to be still and know that he is God” (and we are not) and to spend time communicating with God.
Paul David Tripp in his devotional book, New Morning Mercies, says, “Prayer is abandoning your place in the center of your world and daily surrendering that place to God alone as an act of heartfelt worship.” I don’t know about you, but I sometimes lose my focus on God and can get pretty caught up in all that is going on in my world. In addition, “surrendering” is not something we typically like to do, as we like being in control. Tripp does an excellent job of reminding us that prayer is more than bringing our list of needs and desires to God. He includes six ways that we should surrender to God in prayer:
- Prayer is surrender to the reality that there is someone more ultimate than you.
- Prayer is surrender to the reality that life isn’t about you.
- Prayer is surrender to the reality that you need help.
- Prayer is surrender to the reality that there is wisdom greater than ours.
- Prayer is surrender of your right to live as you choose.
- Prayer is surrender of your hopes to God’s grace.
Although life’s struggles and schedules may distract us, as Christians we are called to prayer as a daily act of worship. What’s more, corporate prayer can be an act of faithful surrender and submission for an entire church body. Consequently, this May at North Central Church we are encouraging our church family to pray together for the “In This Together: Giving Our Best for What Matters Most” kids building campaign.
As I have been praying and reading in preparation for our Month of Prayer, I was reminded in The New City Catechism Devotional: God’s Truth for Our Hearts & Minds that when we say the first few lines of the Our Father, we affirm that God is our Father and our King. The book says, “Our focus must first and foremost be on our Father, who is King. And the greatest joy for his children is that his name would be hallowed, that his name would be famous. And so we should pray, God make your name famous” (page 180).
Our purpose statement at North Central is “to help make Jesus famous.” I believe that this is only possible by surrendering to our holy heavenly Father—and prayer is an essential piece of this process. I encourage you to surrender in prayer to our God and King as we look to make Him famous at North Central, in our community and beyond. May we all join in this prayer, taught to us by Jesus, to help make His name famous, and may we all indeed be “In This Together: Giving Our Best for What Matters Most” for our church, kids and community.
For more content related to prayer, check out:
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp
The New City Catechism Devotional: God’s Truth for Our Hearts and Minds edited by Collin Hansen
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
5 Things to Pray For Your Church: Prayers That Change Things for the Life of Your Church by Rachel Jones
AUTHORED BY RICH PARISI, ASSISTANT PASTOR & LEGACY, NORTH CENTRAL CHURCH