By: Casey Bonilla.
I have a small “8.34” tattoo, and I get a significant amount of questions about it’s meaning. It’s simple. Romans 8:34. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Personally, this verse is a powerful daily reminder. A reminder that we, through the resurrection of Christ, have direct access to the Creator of the Universe. But not only does God hear us, communicate with us, but he is on our side. Think for just a moment about how marvelous that really is. Meditate on the magnitude of this wonder – the wonder of prayer.
The word “prayer” comes with a lot of different associations these days. Even for a lot of believers I find it tends to seem overwhelming, confusing, and somewhat mystical. Yes, we can communicate with God through prayer. But what does that look like? Why is it so difficult for some to implement into their lives consistently? Is there a certain way to pray? And why is it so important to our walk with Christ?
The power of prayer is highlighted throughout the entire Bible, from beginning to end. We see in Exodus 2:23-25, “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” The Israelites cried out to God, he heard, and he cared. This is the same God who hears your prayers today.
In the Gospels, we see the example that Jesus set for a prayerful life. Not only that, but we see the power that prayer holds – the truth that God hears us. If you read through the Gospels at large, you’ll notice that Jesus often – more than you might think – goes off alone to pray. In his humanity, Jesus needed time with the Father, and he made it a priority. Not only is prayer a way to communicate with God, but it is a time to spend in his presence and to invite him into your daily life.
There is absolutely no one correct way to pray. God wants us to bring to Him all of our thoughts, worries, joys, struggles, hopes, questions, and so on. But He does provide a guide that will help you get started in your prayer life, or re-consider what you are praying for. You might have heard it before – The Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:5-13 says,
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
There is so much to unpack here, but one key aspect of this prayer is the invitation for God’s will to come to pass, for the Kingdom of Heaven to enter. When Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, he prays this same prayer. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). Not our will, but His. The point is not to stop asking God for the specific desires of your heart. The point is that you must be willing to surrender them in exchange for His plan to come. His plan is always greater, His will always prevails, and the most powerful prayer we can pray for this world is for His will to be done. Opening your heart to what He has for you can result in things you never would have even thought to pray for. This huge invitation for Him to work can seem daunting, but it is definitely worth it.
Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” It is not always about the words we bring to God, but rather the heart we have. Prayer is just as much about our posture towards God as it is what we pray for. Spending time in prayer shows the Lord that your mind and heart is set on him and that you are willing to put the world aside, even for just those moments, and focus your attention on Him and His presence.
Though in theory it should be so easy to have a thriving prayer life, to constantly be in open communication with God, to pray on behalf of this world and the people around us – I know the reality of this is not easy for everybody. Simple, but not easy. If this is you today, I encourage you to start implementing small steps to spend more time in prayer. Maybe it’s a recitation of the Lord’s prayer daily. Maybe it’s a few minutes timed in the morning spent with God and no distractions. Maybe it’s a physical list of prayers you want to be lifting to God today. Prayer should not be a checklist item that we perform without heart, but it is a vital piece to the Christian walk, and something we do need CONSTANTLY when we follow Jesus. My hope and prayer for you all is that consistency will result in a true desire to pray without ceasing, to continuously draw near to your Creator. There is power in your prayers because there is power in Jesus. Your praise and your cries will never go unheard.
Spend time with God and you will begin to see His will for your life revealed. Remain in a posture of prayer and you will begin to see your daily life transform.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.