Entry into a new year is surely a relevant point at which to review our private prayer life. I would not be surprised if most of us readily agree there is considerable space for improvement in this area of activity. Where do we begin?
Maybe it would be helpful to divide the topic into two parts – our regular prayer and prayer in crises.
Are you on the private prayer ladder at all or is explicit prayer confined to the weekly zoom service? Have your had experiences during 2020 which were nudging you towards the need for the regular practice of prayer. The first rung is to accept that God is waiting to hear from you and the second is to do it. Like learning to ride a bike or learning to swim there are no half-measures here. Simply have a conversation with God about something on your mind and you are away. The next rung is to bring some order into doing this. Are you ready to make this a daily practice? What time of the day is best? Being a lark or a night-owl will help you to sort that out. Many other upward steps can be worked out by similar common-sense considerations. Where there is a will there is a way!
Motivation towards introducing this characteristic to your life-style comes from none other than Jesus himself. For example, look at Mark Chapter 6 verse 46. It tells us, “After leaving his disciples Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray.”Someone has counted fifteen times when the gospel writers tell of Jesus going off to pray alone. If this was that important to Jesus logically it should stimulate us to do likewise
What about praying in a crisis? Has some aspect of the Covid outbreak prompted you to this type of prayer? How did you respond to national news of a lack of emergency equipment, the rapidity of the spread of the virus, the terrible death rate, the fear of loss of someone in your own household, and so on?
We need to develop a mind-set in which prayer is our first port of call – not the last.
The first twelve chapters of the Acts of the Apostle are peppered with incidents where the infant church was in really big trouble. Do you know how they responded? Well they prayed.
One of the best is actually in Chapter 12. Peter was in prison. What was the church doing? Well verse 5 tells us, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him”. If you do not know this story well, go and read it as soon as you can.
Finally, let us all pray for one another and particularly that the prayer-life of the church may be strengthened during this year.