Importance of Prayer
Prayer life is so important in our lives. We need to step away from our daily busy schedule and plunge ourselves into a quiet and peaceful time of prayer. We need that for the sanity of our soul. We will experience something very different and we will be able to see things that we have missed in our busy life. Such as the appreciation of what we have. Food, shelter, family, and good friends. Deep appreciation of the air we breathe. Just the sheer joy of recognizing that I am alive. So we appreciate things that we took for granted. In that time of prayer, we experience a lot of new things. It’s like going into a totally new world.
So for those who have never learned the life of prayer, I strongly recommend that you start doing it. At first, you may feel a little strange and awkward but you will get used to it. Sometimes we think prayer is something only very religious people do. Because of this misconception, many people stay away from such a beautiful thing. I want to revive this beautiful tradition of prayer for everyone. It has to be a very natural thing to do. You don’t need to be so religious to have a time of prayer. Just make it as a routine of life. You don’t have to follow what others do. Find your own time, your own space, and your own way. Create your own way of having a time of prayer. Be creative. Jesus said to go into your room and shut the door and pray to your God who is in secret. What does that mean? Nobody will see you. You are all alone. You can spend that time in a unique way you design. Nobody will even know that you pray. They don’t need to know. You don’t need to close your eyes. If you want, you can. You don’t need to say aloud. Sometimes, saying it aloud becomes limiting and distracting. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to say anything. If you want, you can. But you don’t have to. If you want to sing rather, you can do that. You don’t need to have a certain emotion. Sometimes, different emotions may come up and let them be. Sometimes you may not feel anything. That’s ok. You don’t need to feel anything. Also, you don’t need to be perfect to pray. You don’t need to be even good to pray. Just enjoy that precious moment with God. You will get a lot of positive experiences. Soon it will not be an obligation or a chore any more. It will become one of your favourite times. It will be something you look forward to. It will be a time when you simply become who you are without any pretension. We all need moments when we let down all our guards and simply become ME. No need to impress anyone. No need to hide our insecurities. No need to control. Be simply me. That is quite liberating.
Prayers Strengthen Faith
Today’s passage tells us a great promise. It is a beautiful passage.
And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:15 NIV)
When we make prayer our daily routine, we will experience that some changes are happening in you. You find peace that you didn’t have before. Emotionally you feel more stable. Not too much of ups and downs. When you face problems, you are calmer. Worries and anxiety do not eat at you anymore. Somehow, you feel that your prayers are answered. When you see these changes, slowly your faith is being formed. In our daily routine of prayer life, our faith grows. You feel good. Faith is not something you can have just because you want it. It’s like your heart – you cannot tell your heart what to do. Many times it is beyond our control. When your heart is filled with worries or anxiety, you don’t know what to do. Just because you don’t want to worry or be anxious, you can’t do it. It’s like sleep. Just because you want to sleep, you cannot necessarily have a good sleep. Faith is like that. You cannot have it just because you want it. You don’t form your faith. Faith is formed within you. You don’t even know how it is formed within you. Faith is not something you figure out with your brain. It is the movement of your heart. Prayer creates this movement.
Boldness through Prayer
One of the greatest things that we experience when we pray, is that we become bold. That’s what today’s passage tells us.
And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14)
At first, don’t even worry about asking according to God’s will. If you focus on knowing God’s will, sometimes prayer becomes burdensome. Just have a time of prayer and you can ask anything. But soon, you will be able to hear and sense what God wants. You will be able to realize that God is speaking to you. And you know that God will answer your prayer. This gives you boldness. This boldness is very important in living a good life. It gives you confidence in life.
Not only we start having the COURAGE to be comfortable with who we are, but we also have boldness to dare to become who we want to be. COURAGE TO BE AND DARE TO BECOME. We don’t just stay who we are. We change. That’s what prayer does. It changes us. It makes us become people who dare. Dare to do things that we were afraid to do before. Dare to make changes. Dare to challenge things. Prayer makes us very positive and forward-looking.
Way too often, we just let our circumstances dictate us. And sometimes we are completely paralyzed. We don’t like that. But somehow, we don’t do anything about it. We just have a lot of excuses of why we couldn’t do or why we didn’t do. We are just good at avoiding problems. But with prayer, we now have boldness to challenge ourselves, face problems head on. When you pray, as Jesus said, you start in a room but prayer propels you to go out of your room and challenge the world.
Boldness and Faith
One of the distinct characteristics of the change that happened in the disciples was their boldness. While they were with Jesus, they were timid. Often, they were very afraid.
Once they went out in a boat and there was a great storm. They couldn’t control the situation. These were all fishermen. If they couldn’t control the situation, it must have been a really bad storm. They were scared and called out,
Lord, save us! We are perishing! (Matthew 8:25)
And Jesus told them,
‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ (Matthew 8:26)
See Jesus connects faith with boldness and confidence and fear with the lack of faith.
Once Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he wanted to do the same thing. Jesus told him to come. Peter boldly went out to the water and he was able to walk a little bit. But he saw the waves and got scared. Soon he was drowning and called out for help.
‘Lord, save me!’ (Matthew 14:30)
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. And he said,
‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Matthew 14:31)
His fear drowned him and his fear came from the lack of faith.
If I translate “believing in Jesus” into a modern language, what would that be? It is to have confidence and boldness. Believing in Jesus means having boldness.
When we believe in Jesus, we will become bold. That is the change we will experience. This boldness or confidence is very important in living a meaningful life.
Confidence in God
Many modern writers say how important it is to have confidence. They are saying that it is a key to success. So they recognize the importance and the value of confidence. There are so many books that deal with the importance of confidence in life.
But a lot of times, they are talking about having confidence in yourself. That is not what I am talking about. Today’s passage clearly says that. It is not confidence in ourselves but in God who hears us in whatever we ask. To have boldness, we need to sense that God is with us, hears us, and takes care of us.
I believe that boldness is a gift. I don’t think it is about ourselves. It is not a positive feeling we have about ourselves. It is a gift God gives to those who believe in God. Jesus said,
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. (John 14:1,2)
In God, there are many rooms. What does that mean? With God, you have lots of rooms. Your existence becomes fuller. Your existence will expand in God. In God our life expands. In God, new life opens up. That is what eternal life is. This is what John said.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
Eternal life is of course going to heaven after we die. But it is more than that. Eternal life is to live with boldness. Eternal life is to live a fuller life. With eternal life, every moment comes alive. When you know that you have eternal life, you will become bold.