With so many competing time demands, why should we pause to seek the Lord in prayer? Among the many reasons, here are three essential ones to make time to pray:
It's said that you can tell the popularity of the church by the number who show up on Sunday morning; you can tell the popularity of the church's pastor by the number who show up on Sunday night; and you can tell the popularity of Jesus by the number who show up to the prayer meeting.
What has happened to our churches? You call a prayer meeting today and very few people show up. I know of a church of 5,000 in Denver that called a prayer meeting and only five people came.
That's a far cry from the day a century earlier when the entire city of Denver paused for prayer — "even at the high tide of business." The Jan. 20, 1905, Denver Post reported: "Seldom has such a remarkable sight been witnessed — an entire great city, in the middle of a busy weekday, bowing before the throne of heaven and asking and receiving the blessing of the King of the Universe."
Oh, that believers would honor God in prayer and seek the Lord similarly today!
We may earnestly desire God's glory. We may pour our lives into serving others for His sake. Still, we have to admit that, try as we might to avoid doing so, our own agendas taint our prayers. What can we do about these mixed motives?
Let God search you. When we pray for God to cleanse our hearts and our motives as David did in Psalm 139:23-24, it is important to yield the search-and-destroy mission to Him. He will bring wrong motives to our attention and lead us into repentance.
Confess mixed motives. Ignoring them won't make them go away. While they may always lurk, Jesus invites us to confess them and receive forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9).
Ask God to teach you. As we surrender to His refining hand, we can ask Him to redirect our hearts and and cause pure motives to rise to the surface (as the psalmist did in Psalm 119:36).
Grow in thanksgiving. When we thank Him, we're not looking for anything from Him. We're focusing on Him and thanking Him out of a heart that's full from what He's given.
It's said that Habakkuk means "wrestler," and the prophet sure did grapple with God. He saw fellow Hebrews worshiping idols and sacrificing their children to foreign gods, and he cried out for justice. But it seemed his prayers weren't getting through.
The short book of Habakkuk records the "wrestling match," even when the Lord did answer and it wasn't what the prophet had prayed for. But by the third chapter, observe and be encouraged in your own prayer life by the prophet's new view and renewed trust.
Habakkuk stopped looking around and started seeing things from God's perspective. He resolved to live by faith in light of who God is, what He has done and is doing, and what he has promised to do — not only in the world, but also in his own life.
Are you grappling with God? Let Jesus' prayer be yours: "not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). And let Him know you agree that the Father knows best.