Monday, April 13, 2020

The Vital Importance of Prayer

For the Believer in Christ, prayer is of the upmost importance! Unfortunately, I fear that too many of us fail to grasp hold of just how important that it really is for our spiritual maturity. In Psalm 86 we find David in a time of distress. He seems to fail to feel the presence of the Lord in his time of need. But what I love about David is that even though that he does not "feel" the presence of the Lord, he knows that God is still with him as we often witness in his Psalms.  Take note of the first three verses of Psalm 86:

A Prayer of David. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.  (2)  Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.  (3)  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

Notice how David pleads with the Lord to hear and answer him. But, even more importantly, notice how David comes to the Lord. He recognizes his spiritual neediness; "poor and needy." We must recognize this same thing. We NEED God daily because as mere humans, we are weak and constantly in need of the Lord for strength! Also recognize in v.3 above that David comes to God in prayer "daily."  David had many physical and spiritual needs that he could not solve himself, so he wisely turned to the Lord. We must follow his example and daily depend on the Lord by cultivating a stronger prayer life.

We find in the New Testament Scriptures a great illustration of the importance of prayer with our Lord's final hours with His disciples in Mark 14:26-51. Turn to and read the passage before you continue reading here.

Notice in verses 26 and following that they left the upper room and headed to the Mount of Olives where Jesus will spend some time with the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. As they are walking, Jesus informs them that they will stumble and turn against Him- Mark 14:27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  Peter quickly answers that he will never deny the Lord. The others answered likewise. Peter, along with the other disciples failed to recognize their spiritual weakness and constant need for spiritual strength. See, they failed to remember David's Psalms.

Jesus and the disciples finally make it to the garden (Mark 14:32ff.). Jesus instructs eight of the disciples to wait by the gate, possibly just inside of it, while He takes Peter, James, and John further into the Garden to pray. In vv.33-34 Jesus became very distressed and grieved under the pressure of the coming cross experience. I don't believe that we will ever understand what Jesus was going through, but He desired that these three disciples experience some of His grief with Him and to pray with Him. Notice Mark 14:34: "And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch." Jesus instructed them to "watch," to be vigilant and alert. Why? Because their was spiritual danger. Jesus prophesied in v.27 that they would stumble and scatter. Satan was waiting to "devour" them: 1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: We must all be on alert because there is spiritual warfare around us. Satan wants to trip you up- devour you! Prayer is a vital ingredient to our maturing spiritually and being able to "resist the Devil" (James 4:7).

Jesus goes a little beyond them and drops to the ground to pray to His Father in Heaven. Remember, that Jesus came to His disciples twice and found them sleeping. He gently scolds them and reminds them of the great importance of "watching and praying lest they enter temptation" (v.38). Then Jesus makes this remark in the same verse: "The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." The spirit is eager- Peter truly believed what he said in verses 29 and 31 that he would not deny or leave the Lord. But what he failed to understand was that the "flesh is weak."

Jesus knew what He was talking about. He knew the weaknesses of mankind. He knew the power of Satan's temptations. Remember Satan tempting Jesus in the desert (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus experienced the full force of Satan's temptations and resisted every one of them. He knows Satan's tricks. You and I end up failing at some point. This is why Jesus challenged His disciples and the Holy Spirit challenges us to "watch and pray."

One last point I want you to meditate on! We have Jesus here praying to His Father. We have Jesus agonizing in the Garden. If Jesus needed to consult His Father, how much do you and I need to pray? We are not Jesus! We do not have His power and strength! We are always needy, even if in different degrees.

So let us learn from David the importance of Prayer. And let us also learn from Jesus' instruction and by His example the vital necessity of prayer. How often do you bring your problems, sins, and concerns to the Lord? How dependent are you upon the Lord! Let me challenge you today to Pray! Pray! Pray!

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