When Prophet Samuel confronted the people of Israel with their sin of rejecting the leadership of God by wanting a king, they cried out under conviction, “Please pray for us.” His response is compelling for us today: “As for me, far be it from me that I sin against God by failing to pray for you” (1Sam.12:23). Samuel’s responsibility as a leader of the Lord’s people required that he shepherd them through prayer. Failing to do so was sin for him. Certainly, he viewed prayerlessness as a sin.
Is it not so for Christians today as we consider those whom God has placed around us, either in close relationship, or as those for whom we are responsible? Fathers and mothers must pray for their children. Children must be taught to pray for their siblings as well as their friends. Pastors and church leaders must take seriously the call to pray for their flocks. Christian employers must be challenged to pray for their employees. Church members must pray for others in their congregation. “Pray for one another.”
Brother or sister, are you convinced yet that to fail to pray is a grievous sin against the Holy Spirit, who “…Himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express” (Romans 8:26)? Can we look to the Scriptures that point us to the Savior who is even now interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25) and fail to see that He is calling us to join Him in this priestly ministry of prayer? We are never closer to the heart of the Father than when we have joined Him in prayer.
How much should we pray to avoid the sin of prayerlessness?
Here is where it becomes most difficult because we all want someone to give us a specific guideline such as, “Pray for fifteen minutes a day and you are okay.” The trouble with such a statement is that someone else will come along and say, “Oh no…..fifteen minutes is completely inadequate. You must pray at least an hour a day.” And then someone else will say…well, you get my meaning.
Prayer is not measured by minutes or hours, but by the attitude of the heart. We are not responsible in this matter to another Christian with a stopwatch, but to the Father who knows our hearts and the depths of our desires.
The young believer may need to simply begin a regular daily time of prayer, even if just for five minutes a day. The saint who has walked with the Lord for 50 years should far exceed this mark, simply because of a deepened level of intimacy with Jesus.
The issue for most of us is to take another step forward along the journey of prayer. Whether it is adding several minutes a day, or beginning to pray for those you have never considered praying for, you can begin to respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit within you to become a person of prayer.
Ultimately, God is calling us all to a life of prayer. It is a life lived in close proximity to God.
We learn to “pray as we go,” whether we are driving a car or studying in school. As we learn to live out the truth of Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” we will begin to understand more how the Apostle could command us to “pray without ceasing.”
You are blessed!