Prayerlessness may be the most serious sin problem in the church today. Why do I say that? Because the absence of prayer is fueled by prideful independence, which God actively opposes (James 4:6). Who among us wants to be a practical enemy of God? I don’t think any of us would answer “Yes.” And yet, I’m afraid, we tempt God to oppose us more often than we realize.
Too often prayer is an afterthought, but it was not to the New Testament church. Far from being a leftover offered to God once their primary energies had been dispensed on the “more urgent” activities of church life, prayer was considered by the early believers to be a staple they could not live without. They were truly God-dependent people. Therefore, I wrote this book to help us learn from their example, to cultivate a spirit of God-dependency among us, and to teach a basic theology of prayer that every believer can embrace. Having been in pastoral ministry for over 25 years, here are three specific observations that prompted me to write Pray About Everything.
Prayer Is Often Missing from Our Private Lives
According to Scripture, prayerlessness is a sin (1 Sam. 12:23). As such, it is also a hindrance to our spiritual growth and protection, since we are commanded to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) and to prayerfully put on the armor of God by faith (Eph. 6:18). The more a believer grows in Christ the more we become like Him and, therefore, the less we are governed by a spirit of independence. This book is submitted as an aid to ordinary Christians, as well as to church leaders, as a challenge not merely to pray more but to think more biblically about prayer and about the God to whom we pray. All in all, it is my hope that believers will be strengthened and energized by a renewed commitment to the constancy of prayer.
Prayer Is Often Missing from Public Worship Gatherings
As evangelical churches become increasingly user-friendly in an attempt to reach the world for Christ, one of the aspects of corporate worship that has fallen on hard times is congregational prayer. This is a time for the whole church to unite in heart and mind before God’s throne (Acts 1:12-14). This longer time of prayer (about five to seven minutes in my church) is a very important part of a local church’s worship, a time during which one of the pastors or elders usually leads the church family to God’s throne of grace (Heb. 4:14–16). When practiced, this becomes a singular time of communion with God as we affirm in our hearts, and perhaps with their voices, the praise, thanksgiving, and supplications that are brought to God’s ears.
Prayer Is Often Missing in Discipleship Relationships
When Jesus trained the disciples, one of the essential disciplines He taught them was prayer. It is my conviction that believers who hunger for spiritual growth also hunger to learn how to pray. Like the disciples, they are asking us, “Teach us to pray.” Therefore, as we make disciples we need to instruct them in the basic theological truths concerning prayer. They need to understand what Jesus meant when He instructed us to pray in His name and to forgive others, lest the Lord not hear our own prayers for forgiveness (Matt. 6:12-15). Like the apostles, we need to teach those we disciple the importance of praying for government leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-4), how the Holy Spirit prays for us (Rom. 8:26-27), and when it is proper and necessary to call for their elders to pray over them (James 5:13-18), among other lessons. They also need us to teach them to pray by praying with them.
Scripture has more to say about prayer than we can ever hope to master in one lifetime. Therefore, it’s essential for every believer to continue to cultivate an appetite for God which is satisfied by fellowship with God in the Word and in prayer.
Questions for Reflection
How does a lifestyle of prayer display God-dependency? What are some of the hindrances to prayer, both inside us and around us?
Dr. Paul Tautges has been in gospel ministry for 25 years and currently serves as pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He has authored eight books, including Pray About Everything, and contributed to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. Paul also serves as editor for the popular LifeLine mini-book series from Shepherd Press and blogs regularly at www.counselingoneanother.com.