As followers of Christ, prayer is the way to communicate to our Heavenly Father. Throughout the Old Testament, prayer was only possible through a priest appointed by God but because of Jesus’ death on a cross and resurrection from the dead, those who believe on the name of Jesus have a restored relationship with God the Father. Communication directly to God no longer requires a priest but grants us the ability to pray openly and directly Him. Before I go any further, I want to stress the significance of this. You can talk to God. The God who spoke the earth into existence, the God who sustains the universe and life itself and possess the ability to extinguish anything and everything without lifting a finger, the God who is by character holy and pure, is the same God that you, a sinner saved by indescribable grace, have the opportunity to come before and say whatever may be on your heart and mind. On top of all that, He listens. Prayer is a mind-blowing privilege that should never be taken for granted.
Through the life of Jesus Christ, we are given a perfect example of how to live our lives as Christians. In reference to prayer, Jesus specifically gives an outline for how we should pray to our Heavenly Father in Matthew 6. This is often the passage referenced when someone asks how to pray. However, I want to take a slightly different approach. Jesus himself prayed to the Father and if we look at the prayer life of Jesus, I think we might find a contrast between how Jesus prayed and how we pray.
In general, Jesus’ prayer life was intense and passionate while his work in ministry was seemingly effortless. For example, when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke 22:44 tells us he sweat drops of blood. Jesus was praying so fervently that he was sweating blood. However, when Jesus was performing miracles, he simply spoke the word and people were healed or even raised from the dead. In Luke 6 it tells us of a time when Jesus went to a mountain and prayed all night to seek the Lord’s will yet when he healed the crippled man in Matthew 9, Jesus simply says “get up and walk”. In Matthew 4 we see Jesus in the wilderness fasting for 40 days to pray but we see no struggle, stress or worry in Matthew 14 when he feeds 5,000 people. Jesus was so zealous in his praying that his ministry was apparently easy. Unfortunately, many of us are the reverse.
Wherever God has called you to minister, whether in your workplace, as a parent or as a volunteer at church, that is your ministry. Far too often we put all our effort in the work of that ministry to the point that we forsake prayer completely. I am not saying we should not give our all to serving the Lord in whatever capacity he has allowed. However, we are called to be like Jesus and Jesus passionately prayed and because of that, ministry became easy. Unfortunately, many of us casually throw up a last-minute prayer asking God to help us and then our ministry becomes stressful. Jesus did the exact opposite. He eagerly prayed and his ministry came with ease. This is not to say that ministry doesn’t have its difficult moments and trying situations but if we passionately seek the Lord through prayer first, you just might find those trying situations beginning to diminish. I do not believe God ever intended for us to get “burned out” in ministry. I would go as far to say that I don’t believe God even wants stress in our ministry. What God wants is for us to follow the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing.” Passionately and eagerly seek the Lord in prayer first and foremost and you might just see the stress of ministry begin to fade.