Nothing reveals the bankruptcy of modern Christianity more clearly and quickly than the current crisis in prayer. It has reached emergency proportions and demands our attention.
Many times, I have asked, “Why is it that we as believers do not pray more?” and “Why is it that churches do not give more attention to prayer?”
After all, because prayer is the ultimate act of spiritual intimacy with God, shouldn’t it be the central activity of our whole lives? It cannot be that we lack teaching on prayer; our bookstores and churches abound in books and seminars on the subject. The awful truth, whether we admit it or not, is that we don’t pray because in our hearts we don’t think we really need God. We don’t know how to pray because true prayer can only originate from a life emptied of self-sufficiency.
The Church we see today is truly the church of Laodicea described in Revelation 3:14–22. There is no more accurate description of our spiritual condition anywhere in the Bible. Jesus said of this church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15–17).
Our prayerlessness highlights our self-sufficiency. This I-can-handle-it-myself mind-set is the spiritual cancer of our times. It is the root cause of the present powerlessness both in our personal lives and our churches. Because we have not yet comprehended the essence of prayer, we fail to see the arrogance and terrible rebellion of our present state.
We have so much else to depend on today—buildings, machines, money, programs and technology. We spend thousands of hours with consultants in study and planning. Yet there seems to be no time to pray.
How different our current lifestyle is from the instructions of Christ to the first disciples.
After three-and-a-half years of constant example and teaching, what was the only lesson He wanted them to remember? “Without Me you can do nothing!” No wonder He told them to tarry in Jerusalem and wait until they were endowed with power from above, before they went out to fulfill the Great Commission. He wanted them to realize that, in and of themselves, they were headed for disaster.
Unless we come to this place of total helplessness, we can never understand prayer. This is why Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Prayer is nothing more than voicing our dependence upon God. And the answer to every prayer is nothing more than this: God is with us, in all His power and authority, to make up for our human limitations.