Prayer is critical to the Christian faith. Throughout Scripture we see God’s people praying. We see prayers in times of great sorrow, as with Hannah. We see prayers of rejoicing, like the Magnificat (Mary’s song of praise). We find Jesus praying at every opportunity. We are told by Paul to pray without ceasing. Prayer is required for a strong faith. But it’s more than just saying grace over a meal, bedtime prayers, and praying during the worship service.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” – Isaiah 56:6-7, ESV
In Isaiah we see a description of what God’s house is to be like and what His people are known for. When contrasted with the words of God in the beginning of Isaiah and God’s rejection of the people, these words are stunning. However, when we see the attitude of people being brought to God’s house, we see they have chosen to join Him, to be His ministers, to love Him, to serve in His name, to keep the Sabbath, and to keep the covenant. That’s a description of what God’s people are to be like. There’s more.
We see in Isaiah’s words that they were made joyful in God’s house, a house of prayer. Have you been joyful when you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do? Have you relishedthat opportunity? On the other hand, did you find yourself filled with joy when you were in your place, when you felt fulfilled, when you knew you were doing what you were meant to do at that time? So if a house of prayer is to be a joyful place, then that means God’s people is a people who earnestly desire prayer.
If prayer is hard for you, if it doesn’t come naturally, then prayer is probably not something you earnestly desire. The good news is that a simple, short prayer to God for help in this is a type of prayer that is heard by Him. You are asking His help to be obedient to Him. But there requires a commitment on our part. It’s like if you start exercising after being sedentary for a while.
At first, it’s painful and it’s hard. But as we stick with it, we start to see changes. Exercising becomes easier. We see improvements in our health. And we begin to look forward to it. The same is true of prayer. As we see its impact, we desire to go to God in prayer more and more. And God changes our heart to see more to pray over and bring to Him.
Do you have an attitude of prayer? Does that characterize your spiritual life? If not, start with that simple prayer. Then plan to pray like you would plan to start exercising. Find a prayer partner to help you be accountable. Keep a journal of what you pray about and how God responds. And above all, pray.