There’s all kinds of topics to write about on prayer such as the power of prayer—or the perseverance of prayer—or the potential of prayer—but I want to look at the privilege of prayer because it truly is a privilege and one that unfortunately is too often overlooked and neglected. First of all, what do I mean by privilege?
The dictionary defines “privilege” as “something regarded as a special honour”. The same thing is true when it comes to prayer—specifically, praying for others. It’s more than just a duty—it’s more than a responsibility—it’s more than an obligation—it’s a privilege.
Sadly, prayer is a special honour that so many believers today do not avail themselves of. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I believe one of the greatest failures on the part of the Christian Church today is the failure to pray—the failure to make use of the dynamic power that God has granted us to connect with Him on behalf of not only ourselves, but of others. No doubt, many prayerless believers will stand speechless before Christ when the fearful subject of prayer comes up and Jesus asks “Did you pray?” Did you pray for your unsaved loved ones? Did you pray for your neighbours? Did you pray for your spouse and children? Did you pray for your boss? Did you pray for your pastor? Did you pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, not only in your own church, but around the world? Did you pray for your enemies who persecuted you and despitefully used you?
That’s why Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” Why? Because prayer changes things! We’ve all heard that little, three word phrase and it’s true! No, it’s not in the Bible but the implication of it is—it’s found in James 5:16- “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” The word “avail” literally means to exercise force! So prayer absolutely changes things! It exercises force to change circumstances, it exercises force to change the spiritual atmosphere and it exercises force to change people’s hearts for the Holy Spirit to work on them. That is the tremendous privilege of prayer! This was Revival Prayer Ministries’ very first prayer submission for 2014 from one of our website visitors—“Let God remember us--Let God break the yoke of poverty in my life and family. Let Him establish the ministry He has given to me. Let Him cause men to remember me for good. Let Him bless the works of my hand.”
I don’t doubt that the majority of Christians in North America made a New Year’s resolution that they were going to pray more in 2014. I’ll be the first to agree that we need to pray more—however, if we are praying for the sole purpose of trying to please God with works of the flesh and self-effort, then our motives are out of place. If you’re looking at the clock every five minutes to see how long you’ve prayed, then something is terribly wrong with your reason to pray. A spirit of religion will tell you that you have to pray more and fast more and give more and try harder and try longer and all of that is true if our heart’s desire is to honour God in all that we do. If you’ve got this great big prayer list with 100 names on it and fifty personal needs and you’ve just got to get through it, even though your heart is not even in it, that is legalistic prayer. But if you desire to pray more because the Holy Spirit is convicting you to do so, and you recognize that you are falling short in your prayer life, then your immediate obedience is required and then God will be pleased with your effort and desire to correct that area of your spiritual life, for there are others depending on your prayers!
For example, statistics tell us that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month in North America for various reasons. That is why pastors need our prayers today like never before and it is a privilege for us to pray for them. Your pastor bears the heavy burden of caring for the flock. Many Christian homes are struggling today financially, relationally and emotionally and it’s hard on the spiritual shepherds who are responsible for their spiritual comfort and welfare. And if pastors themselves aren’t grounded in prayer and in the Word of God, and walking in the Holy Spirit, they will soon be defeated and sidelined by the mounting pressure and stress that they face and carry. Therefore, ask God to strengthen and revive their hearts. Pray that the Word of God will be preached in the pulpit faithfully with boldness and truth that will set people free from sin. Pray for a spirit of humility that will keep your pastor safe from pride and arrogance and a carnal desire to be popular. Pray for protection over them from falling into temptation and immoral conduct which would devastate your church. God will honour that prayer! That’s the power and the privilege of prayer.
You’ve heard the phrase, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem”. The Church is the only solution for the insurmountable problems that are occurring in our nation today. We are entering into the period of what the Bible calls, “The time of Jacob’s trouble”. It is also referred to as“The Day of the Lord”, a time of death and destruction such as the world has never known. Am I talking 50 years from now? 25 years from now? No—I personally believe it is much sooner than that according to the signs of the times all around us signalling the end—that is why we must pray! Some Christians who don’t seem to have a burden for prayer feel that if God is sovereign and in full control, what possible difference could their feeble prayers make? Prayer invokes all the power of Heaven at our disposal when we call upon the Lord—all things are possible through prayer!
I believe the majority of Christians are guilty of neglecting the privilege of prayer that ignites such incredible spiritual power—power that can literally transform any impossible situation! So, yes—prayer really can change things! If that were not true, then why bother praying? That would be the supreme exercise of futility if prayer had no effect whatsoever. In Acts 12, King Herod arrested the Apostle Peter to please the people, intending to put him to death the following day just as he had done to James. Peter was a dead man—and the church couldn’t do a thing about it! But what do we read in Act 12:5? “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him”
Your prayers can subdue the powers of darkness in order for the Gospel to be preached and for souls to come to Christ. That is the privilege of prayer. To think that God would include us in His great plan of salvation to rescue souls from hell and damnation through our prayers—what an honour! It was Queen Esther’s desperate prayers that saved the Jewish race from annihilation at the hands of Haman. Esther’s intercessions overthrew his wicked plot to destroy God’s people. She was truly a privileged woman who God favoured to sit in a seat of royal authority having a righteous influence over the king. You and I also sit in a seat of royal authority—we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ and our prayers influence God in His righteous dealings with sinners and saints alike. What a privilege is prayer! To take part in a new name being written down in the Lamb’s book of Life! To participate in strengthening a hurting member of the family of God. Does it get any better that that? I don’t think so! “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” That is our special honour that God has graciously granted us in His Kingdom. Do not neglect such a great privilege that the Lord has bestowed upon you—the privilege to take part with Him in winning the lost and building His Church through prayer!