Martin Luther, the man known for nailing the 95 Theses on the door of the Catholic Church and ushering in the Protestant Reformation, is known to have said these words: “I have so much to do today that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” I remember reading that years ago and asking myself if I truly had the same mindset on prayer as Martin Luther did. Obviously prayer is of utmost importance, but have I ever spent three hours just speaking to God?
Luther understood just how important prayer was. He knew that he needed to start with God. His days couldn’t start with coffee or the local paper, they needed to start with the Almighty. He needed prayer above all. Is that how you look at prayer? Let’s look together at a few verses:
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Whenever I read that verse, I always think back to when I was a child. I remember times when I was scared or nervous, and I knew that if I ever talked to my dad I would feel better. I knew I could go to him, and that weight would release because there was nothing my dad couldn’t do. That’s the same concept with this verse. There are some things that no matter how strong we are, we can’t do anything about it.
We carry that weight of fear, not knowing when we’ll be overcome by our storm. God reminds us that we shouldn’t be anxious about anything, but when we feel troubled we can and should go to him in prayer and let Him know what’s going on. He wants to hear from us! When we talk to him, that weight releases because we know that we’ve given our impossible situation to the God who does the impossible and we know that things are now in control. We don’t have to worry, and so we obtain that “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.”
What gives us that peace is knowing who we’re praying to. We know that God can do anything we ask. Look at a few more of these verses:
Mark 11:24 – “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
I John 5:15 – “And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
John 14:13 – “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Look at some of those key phrases in there – “Whatever you ask… it will be yours,” “we know that we have the requests…” “This I will do…” God leaves no room for doubt in verses where he teaches us about prayer. It’s quite simple. If we ask, He will do. With that said, there is a boundary where we can’t just ask for whatever we want. There are other verses God gives us for groundwork like James 4:3 – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” What James is telling us here is that while other verses teach us we can ask whatever we want, we can be sure we won’t get the things we ask for if we’re only asking them for our own personal gain. Things like “I want a million dollars, or I want that new sports car.” It goes along the same lines of John 14:13 which we read earlier that says He will do “whatever we ask… that the Father may be glorified in the son.”
Prayer is such a powerful tool that I think too few Christians actually truly take advantage of. In every storm we are promised peace, in every need we are promised provision, and in every question we are promised an answer. Too many look at it as a last resort, and not a starting point. As Corrie Ten Boom put it – “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
I truly think that if prayer was our steering wheel more often, then we would never need that spare tire. I don’t think we would hit as many potholes on the journey of life. So often we pray seeking God’s help and wisdom in times of trouble, but if we would have gone to God first thing we would have never experience the trouble in the first place.
Maybe your schedule doesn’t allow for three hours of prayer each morning before your day starts like Luther did, but I would encourage you to make morning prayer a part of your daily schedule. Start your day off right, and it will finish off right, because it was entrusted to God. Let him be your steering wheel more, and you’ll need a lot less spare tires. Ask yourself, “how is my prayer life?” If you don’t like the answer, do something about it. Talk to God!