Don't stop praying

Sometime ago I came across an account written by Bishop Coxe, who was describing his stay at an old feudal castle in England. The castle itself was so old that one of its towers dated back to the days of King John. The Bishop wrote that on the first morning of his stay when he went down for breakfast, he found the owner of the castle, his family and all the servants, assembled for Morning Prayer which was being conducted by the head of the family.  As the Bishop lifted his eyes, he noticed high overhead a massive beam that spanned the grand old hall and in old English it bore the following inscription. That house shall be preserved and never shall decay, Where the Almighty is worshipped day by day AD 1558

For hundreds of years the people of that old castle had turned their faces towards God each day in prayer and what they were doing is something which God expects and commands us all to be doing day by day. Daniel the prophet set aside three times a day for prayer and when you examine the example set by Jesus, we discover that prayer was at the very centre of His life. He regularly prayed by Himself when He was alone, He regularly prayed with His friends, He prayed every week in the synagogue, He prayed for those in trouble, He prayed for Himself, and He prayed before making major decisions.

Jesus set an example that no matter how busy we are, we are expected to take time out with God in prayer. No day should pass without it, no hurry for business, no arrival of friends, no trouble or sorrow and no joy or excitement should prevent us from taking regular time to touch base  with the Giver of Life. Those who are addicted to smoking make sure that they have regular smoke breaks throughout their day no matter how rushed they maybe. Christians in the same way should see to it that they have regular prayer breaks.

This is what should happen and yet so often prayer is not seen as a priority in our lives. In a survey conducted by the Diocese of Oxford, it was revealed that the main reason why people do not worship and pray regularly is not because they don't believe in God, but purely because they think that they are too busy to fit it in.

This notion of being too busy is somewhat amusing when you compare it to the life of Jesus and how busy He was! From dawn until dusk and than after dusk, Jesus was working and ministering to crowds of needy people. He was constantly giving of Himself, constantly under pressure and consciously aware of the dreadful death that lay ahead of Him, which was closer with each passing day.  He would have been exhausted by the end of each day.  Although He had all this work to do; a busy and stressful life beyond our imagination, He always actively set aside time to pray. He set the perfect example of how even in the midst of busyness, prayer was made a top priority! Those who say they haven't time to pray, are in a sense saying they are busier than Jesus was during His earthly ministry which is clearly impossible.

It has been suggested that for some people the word busy might as well stand for Being Under Satans Yoke. Once they neglect their prayer life, they will begin to spiritually drift and sadly this drifting is never in the direction of God but always in the direction of Satan's sphere of influence and bondage.

An individual Christian may be compared to someone swimming in the sea whilst the tide is going out. If they stop swimming in the direction of the shore and merely tread water, they do not stay where they are. Chillingly, they will be pulled by the tide into the ocean and to their death. So likewise unless a Christian ACTIVELY maintains their spiritual life through prayer etc, they wont stay were they are but will gradually drift ever further away from God.

Scripture teaches that we are all Fallen creatures with numerous character faults and failings. Unless we actively resist the pull of our fallen nature with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be drawn into it more and more- to our death.  As it warns in Hebrews Ch 2 vs1-3 Therefore we must give all the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we should drift away..for how shall we escape hell if we neglect so great a salvation?

Some years ago a minister said to his congregation I have a question to ask which no one here will be able to answer. If angels from heaven were here they could not answer it. If the devil himself were here, he couldn't answer it either. Every eye stared at the minister, curious as to what this question might be. He gave them a few moments to think and then broke the intense silence by saying The question is this; how shall we escape hell if we neglect so great a salvation?

An active prayer life with the Lord prevents spiritual drifting just as surely as an anchor holds a boat against tide and storm. That old inscription noticed by Bishop Coxe was quite correct when it spoke of preservation and a lack of decay. It could just as easily have stated that PERSON shall be preserved and never shall decay who worships Almighty God day by day.

The benefits of praying should make prayer the very foundation of our lives, not some sort of after thought slotted in now and then. The truth is we need all the help prayer provides; for our very survival.  We neglect it at our peril. We need it for guidance, we need it for strength, we need it for comfort, we need it to prevent drifting, we need it to grow and we need it for security.

In his moving hymn about prayer, Joseph Scriven summarised it like this, What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Can we find a Friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Saviour still our refuge: take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer. In His arms Hell take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.

How much easier life would be, if only individuals took everything to God in prayer!  Just think how many personal problems, relationship troubles and financial issues would be resolved, and how many fears would be laid to rest.

Are you finding it hard to stand up to the problems and pressures of life? Then get down on your knees! Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. Psalm 55v22.