Points to Ponder: Purpose-driven Prayer
Points to Ponder
Prayer is important to most of the world's religions and has been through the ages. U.S. News teamed up with the Internet site Beliefnet to learn more about why, how, where and when people devote time to prayer. Here is a summary of the more than 5,600 responses:
75% were Christians.
64% say they pray more than once a day.
56% say they most often pray for family members, with 3.3% saying that they pray for strangers.
A little over 38% say that the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God.
41% say that their prayers are answered often.
But 1.5% say that their prayers are never answered.
Over 73% say that when their prayers are not answered, the most important reason is because they did not fit into God's plan.
5% say that they pray most often in a house of worship.
A little over 79% say that they pray most often at home.
67% say that in the past six months, their prayers have related to continually giving thanks to God. (Taken from the Pastor's Weekly Briefing, (12-24-04). Copyright 2004, Focus on the Family)
The most interesting statistic that jumped out at me in this report is that only 38% say the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God. I wondered what the remaining 62% said was most important. Over 79% pray at home, and 64% more than once per day, yet intimacy with God is not driving purpose?
David was probably one of the greatest men of prayer in the Bible. If you follow the many Psalms, which he authored, you know why he's called a man after God's own heart; he sought intimacy with God. The identity of the author of the longest Psalm, Psalm 119, is uncertain; however, it reveals the pleadings of a writer longing to grow in his relationship with God. Psalm 119:10-12, 15-16.
(ITALICS)10With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
15I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.(END ITALICS)
The other verses throughout this 176-verse Psalm, express a desire to follow the Lord and to be totally devoted to and in connection with God.
(ITALICS)33Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
34Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
38Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.(END ITALICS) (Psalm 119:33-38)
When God came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, He walked with and taught His disciples. The Greek word for disciple describes one who does not just seek to learn the teachings; he longs to become like the teacher. That requires a deeper commitment, a desire for intimacy with the master.
In John 15, Jesus told His disciples that intimacy with Him was really the essence of their obedience. "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you." (v.14)
Servants are not privy to the thoughts and intentions of their masters. They just go with the program, do the ritual, follow orders. But for those who would seek to be like the master, to conform their hearts and their lives around the holy standard of Christ, a deeper relationship forms.
Prayer is communication with God. True communication happens when we worship and relate to God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).
How many hours you spend in prayer, what type of devotional you use, the language and style of prayer, etc.; all of this has its place, but the essence of prayer is a desire for intimacy with God. Not the substance, but the essence - because you are only going to get as close to God as you truly want to. God is a "rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6c).
Ponder this: how deep or interesting is a conversation with someone you have little desire to really know. Even the most fascinating of people hold a limited interest for us if we do not go beyond the superficial niceties. Imagine how much more fascinating it will be to plumb the depths of who God is, as you build on an ever expanding and intimate walk with Christ.
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little there a little." (Isaiah 28:10)
Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site, www.fumcl.org, and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.