Why is prayer so powerful? Why is it so important for Christians to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)?
Art Lindsley answers these questions in “Power of Prayer: The Intense Intimacy of Connection,” a new article written for the Washington Times as part of their Power of Prayer: to Enhance Your Life and Restore America special report.
Lindsley begins by emphasizing the central place prayer holds in the Christian faith:
Faith in Christ, if true, is of infinite importance. In such a faith, what would be the center, the most important thing about it? In the history of the church, various contenders emerge: faith, thanksgiving, repentance, faithfulness, freedom and love. A case could be made for each one of these. Yet at the root, all these involve a responsiveness to God, invocation, calling on His name.
This responsiveness to God, this intimacy with him, is made available through Christ. Lindsley writes,
Jesus repeatedly addresses God as “Father” and encourages us to do the same. This promise of an intimate relationship with a loving Father encourages us to bring not just occasional things or major concerns, but everything to Him.
With this intimacy comes great power, and Lindsley spends the rest of the article detailing the many ways Christians throughout the ages have accomplished great things through the power of prayer.
After offering up figures like Martin Luther and John Wesley as models of prayer, Lindsley then gives a warning about the dangers of neglecting prayer. This, too, helps us see why prayer is so powerful and important to the Christian life:
Bibles read without prayer, sermons heard without prayer, marriages contracted without prayer, journeys undertaken without prayer, residences chosen without prayer, friendships formed without prayer, the daily act of prayer itself hurried over or gone through without heart — these are the kinds of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall.
In the end, prayer shouldn’t be pursued by a legalistic mindset, but by desire. We pray not just because we should, but because we want to, because we long for connection with God. Lindsley concludes:
Believers stress the importance of prayer in all kinds of circumstances. This is not merely a duty, though, but ought to be a matter of desire. When believers throughout the ages have experienced an encounter with God, they find it not only unforgettable but something that increases their desire to pray.