The Centrality of Prayer

I’ve been reminded recently of how foundational prayer is to a life of communion with God. I feel saying such an obvious thing, but the truth is, I forget that fact more readily than I should. Prayer is the essential work – everything else flows out of it: worship, evangelism, ministry.

The Lord spoke to me out of Luke 11 recently. In Luke 11, Jesus’ disciples overhear Jesus praying and, after he had finished, come up to ask him, “Lord, would you teach us how to pray?”

What interests me is the placement of this passage in Luke’s Gospel. See, the 12 had already been sent out to preach and preform signs and wonders in chapter 9 and the 72 had been sent out to do the same in chapter 10. It is only after all of this activity that Jesus’ disciples come to ask him to teach them how to pray.

My meditation on this chapter has led me to one conclusion – signs and wonders don’t hold a candle next to really knowing God. It isn’t that signs and wonders aren’t important, they are an essential piece of Gospel proclamation, but they aren’t as fulfilling as we are often led to believe. The disciples, after casting out demons, healing the sick and performing every manner of miracle catch Jesus praying and have the revelation “This man knows God, like, for real.”

And that is what they were hungry for, knowing God. The power stuff was nice, but it wasn’t God.

Interesting that when Acts tells us that people were healed by Peter’s shadow it was because he was on his way to pray. God had come to so dominate his interior life that he was probably unaware of the effect he had on those around him. And Peter was in prayer when God commanded him to go preach the Gospel for the first time to Gentiles.

I want the type of prayer life that Jesus did. I want to know God. I want that no-holds-barred sort of intimacy with God that transforms me from the inside out.

Jesus’ brother James became the bishop of Jerusalem. James was held in high regard, not because of his relationship to Jesus, but because of his dedication to prayer. The Jews nicknamed James “camel knees” because he was forever in the Temple, weeping and praying for God’s people. What a legacy. What is the interior revelation that leads to that sort of exterior manifestation? I don’t know yet, but I want to. Lord, hear our prayer.

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