Rev. Dr. Darrell K. White gave a mantra to Baptist Liberty Church decades ago that serves as a guide for my journey:
MUCH PRAYER, MUCH POWER
SOME PRAYER, SOME POWER
LITTLE PRAYER, LITTLE POWER
NO PRAYER, NO POWER
It is true that we can pray all we want to and some things will not change. The prophet Habakkuk rejoiced in the midst of his nation’s wicked society. Paul preached with a thorn in his flesh. Yes, there are moments when God does not alter situations based on our wishes. So, what good is it for us to be ceaseless in prayer?
Prayer is our means of being in communion with God. Prayer is not our means to make him a flunky beholden to our wishes and whims no matter how significant they may be. This is a tragic mistake many people make when they pray. A presumption that the Lord is supposed to do their bidding. No, it is He that made us and not we ourselves. Thus we come to God with humble hearts and souls seeking his overall will and not simply our own petitions.
With this communion established, our spirits are aligned with the Holy Spirit. This is the portion of the Trinity that reminds us that we are children of the Father and have been saved through the Son. Our value is re-affirmed and cleansing through repentance is confirmed. An arrogant, or even lazy, heart and soul cannot have such a communion. But, to the one who is humble, the Father elevates. To the one who knocks, Jesus opens the door. This process of divine elevation and revelation is the power we receive in prayer.
According to God’s will, prayer enables us to either change the situation or change for the situation. In our complex and complicated lives, aren’t we in need of such power? And if we need something, are we to slothfully expect someone to drop this power in our laps with little effort? Or are we to make the pursuit of this power a part of who we are?
The monastics of Orthodoxy hold to a practice of praying even under their breath, “Lord have mercy.” Catholic monks and nuns do similar, if not the same. We modern Protestants who can’t afford to abandon all to move to Mt. Athos or St. Catherine’s can still be relentless in prayer. Just as we are passionate about a favorite television program, musician, or sports team; we must be as passionate about having communion with God. Indeed, even more so as these other pursuits are temporal. God is Spirit and eternal. Let us be in relentless pursuit of Spirit so that we will have the power to live in the fullness of God’s will. Make time for prayer as if all depends on it.