Mahatma Gandhi described prayer as “the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening”, and the first letter to the Thessalonians (5:17, KJV) encourages us to “pray without ceasing”.
Of our study passages, perhaps the most sobering is the story from Mark 9, where the disciples struggled ineffectually to help the boy and were glad to have Jesus take over and sort things out. His response when they ask him the cause of their own failure later in private, “This kind can come out only by prayer,” demonstrates if we needed it that prayer is not just a religious duty or a mental exercise to induce pleasant feelings of calm, but makes a material difference in both occasional crisis and regular daily life.
The life of Jesus, beset on every side by people in trouble needing his help and people who hated him plotting his downfall, shows us a man who sought prayer as a thirsty man seeks a cold drink on a hot day. Jesus depended on prayer, took refuge in prayer, drew his strength and guidance from prayer.
A striking thing Jesus said was: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12–14).
This offers us the challenge that, if we will immerse ourselves in prayer like Jesus and with Jesus, we too will see the wonderful works of God in our lives; we are more like Jesus than we think. The choice is ours.
Can you think of a time when you saw prayer definitely make a difference?
Have you read any books on prayer you could recommend?
What are your experiences of fasting with prayer? What difference does the fasting make?
Faithful God, you wait for us in the silence, to refresh our spirits and strengthen our souls for service. Give us the grace to turn aside and seek your presence, before the day begins, in the midst of everything, and when we lay ourselves down to rest. Thank you for being there for us; may we also be there for you. We ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.