The Bible teaches us that we should pray constantly. I confess I don’t pray as often as I should. But I don’t want this devotional to be a “drive-by guilting” about prayer. Could the reason we don’t pray more be that we have misunderstood the purpose of prayer?
Most everybody I know prays when they are desperate. We sometimes hear the phrase “foxhole praying,” which, of course, comes from the idea that when you are pinned down in a foxhole with bullets flying all around you, almost everyone is inclined to pray. Webster’s Dictionary defines a foxhole as a pit usually dug hastily for individual cover from enemy fire. Doctors later likened those early, frightening pandemic days to being in a foxhole together — Evan Bush, NBC News, January 15, 2022
According to God’s Word, our entire lives are intended to be lived with the attitude that we can’t do anything unless God intervenes. It has an attitude of absolute dependence on God: not just in case of emergency, but at every moment. What if everything we do as followers of Jesus Christ was not possible without divine intervention? That is why we should pray.
We pray because we ALWAYS need God.
If Jesus is our model in prayer, we should learn from his example about what is at the heart of prayer. Jesus prayed in total dependence on God. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we see that immediately after he was baptized, he was praying Luke 3:21 says, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened.”
In Luke chapter four, we see that Jesus’ whole ministry begins with a battle involving prayer and fasting that took place face-to-face with the devil. Jesus is about to call the 12 apostles. What does he do before he chooses them? Luke 6:12, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God.”
Luke 18:1 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Jesus is teaching the disciples about persistence in prayer. Jesus was praying when He went to Gethsemane right before his arrest and crucifixion Luke 22:40-42, “When He came to the place, He said to them, pray that you may not enter into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
What did Jesus do on His own, apart from prayer? The answer is absolutely nothing. There’s not one thing that Jesus did on his own, and all He did was in dependence on the Father. Everything.
John 5:19 says, “The Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing.” John 5:30, “By myself I can do nothing.” That begs the question: If Jesus, God in the flesh, said that He could do nothing by Himself, then who are we to think there is anything in our Christian life we can do on our own?
Answer: there is absolutely nothing we can do apart from total dependence on God.