What’s something that matters a lot to you? Maybe it’s your job, family, or a hobby. Now, considering that, do you usually do ‘just enough to get by’ with it? Or do you find so much joy and importance in it that you devote more of yourself to it than you ‘have to?’
Now, switching our focus, how important is prayer in your life? How often do you talk to God? Lately, I’ve been convicted that my morning prayers alone aren’t enough. Because my belief in God is a relationship and not simply a self-serving program, it invites and requires more of me than ‘just enough to get by.’
Last week, I wrote about the importance of ordinary days. You can read it HERE. Together, we discovered that we can transform the shakable, worldly things in our lives with the unshakable things of God. I also gave us the sweet, much-needed reminder that God is not bored with our everyday lives: He finds great beauty and purpose in them.
Now, we’ll be going deeper into the most significant way we can capture the importance of the ordinary: prayer. This week we’ll study four aspects of prayer, and next week we’ll focus on constant prayer. Let’s start with the first aspect:
#1: Prayer is our DUTY.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. -Psalm 10:4
God is completely worthy of our steady focus and praise. We are to humble ourselves by dwelling in his presence, not just setting meeting times with him throughout our weeks. Are we doing a good job of giving him “the glory due his name?” That’s a tough question. How could we ever fulfil that lofty calling? The verse clarifies: “bring an offering and come into his courts.” His desire is simple: to have us approach him, come to him.
#2: Prayer is GOD’S JOY and HEAVEN’S FRAGRANCE.
Just a warning, the two passages we’re about to read might give you goosebumps and an overwhelming, humbling desire to pray. When I was first studying them, they blew my mind. So, let’s jump in! First, Hebrews 7:25:
[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
-Hebrews 7:25, emphasis added
Ever since Jesus died on earth to allow us to come to God, he has been actively interceding for us before God in heaven. His advocacy for us continues beyond the cross! He shields us from condemnation, instead inviting us into relationship (Ro. 8:34). God hears every single one of our prayers because of Jesus!
Jesus died to save us, and he lives to intercede for us. How humbling! Our prayers are not individual, casual acts. They are offerings, actively received in heaven because a great price has been paid. Now let’s look at a passage that describes heaven in more detail:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
-Revelation 7:6-8, emphasis added
In this royal, strange, worshipful scene I can’t fully comprehend, one thing is sure: Prayer is the fragrance, the sweet aroma, of heaven. Picture it: the elders and creatures of heaven are falling at Jesus’ feet right now, offering him our prayers! Chew on that for a moment. Read it again. Let it sink in.
Our prayers, no matter how unimpressive they seem, are impacting heaven. Studying this has given me a deeper, more thankful perspective. In heaven, prayer is no offhand ritual. It is vastly important, celebrated, desired, and welcomed as fragrant offering.
#3: Prayer is OUR JOY, too.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
-1 Chronicles 16:10-11
After learning about prayer’s role in heaven, it’s safe to assume that you’re feeling compelled to pray. The verses you just read deepen this desire with a well-worded reminder that seeking God is a joyful act for us, too! Prayer is not simply a duty, but a gift: something we’re allowed to do. Let’s not let our excitement be dullened by time or familiarity. The ability to enter God’s presence is always, always a joyous gift we could never earn and should never disregard.
#4: Prayer is POWER for us and others.
Prayer is direct communication with God, so it’s not a surprise that it holds vast power: the power of forgiveness, wisdom, healing, heart change, supplication, connection with God, a correct perspective, and the gift of peace- to name a few. This passage from Ephesians showcases quite a few of these. As you read, try to pick out specific things prayer can do.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I hope that studying these four aspects of prayer has been powerful for you—I know it has been for me! Prayer is our duty, God’s joy, heaven’s fragrance, our joy, and power for us and others.
Next week, come back to read about the necessity of continual prayer, along with a few practical tips.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!