“Continue in prayer…” (Colossians 4:2)
I think the most important reason why we ought to pray is because, like to take heed and to watch, prayer is also commanded (Mark 13:33). So before we even talk about the immense benefit of prayer, we must understand that we are commanded to pray. Failure to pray is therefore a sin. It is for this reason we ought to be surprised when Christians think prayer is an option. It is not an option, it is mandatory for a Christian to pray. Whether it is of benefit or not is of little importance. So far it is commanded, we must pray.
We are commanded to pray in to ways. One is by expressed verbal command, and the other is commandment by example.
Verbal Commands To Pray
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
(1 Peter 4:7)
There various commands to pray in the Bible and here are some:
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:33)
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” (1 Timothy 2:1)
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1 Timothy 2:8)
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
So you see we have a host of commandments to pray throughout scriptures. He who fails to pray therefore is a sinner. A grievous one. Let us therefor heed the command to pray.
The Prayer Life Of Jesus
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.” (Hebrews 5:7)
Apart from the verbal command to pray, we also have a form of command to pray which is by the laid down example of the life of Christ. The things that Jesus says are commands, but the things he did also must be taken as commands too. When Jesus says, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). By this statement, Christ meant that we ought to follow his footsteps. And for this reason his actions becomes a command.
This is what we read about his baptism: “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened…” (Luke 3:21). That was the beginning of his ministry. It began by prayer.
He continued all through his earthly ministry praying. It is written, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35). It is also written, “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23). And again, “And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, “Whom say the people that I am?” (Luke 9:18). All through his life it was evidently his habit to seek solitary place to pray to God. The night before his crucifixion, he spent the whole night in a passionate prayer before God. A prayer that was so intense that his sweat became like blood, for it is written, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).
The last word he spake as he gave up the ghost was a prayer, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46).
So, it is clear that one major thing that characterised the life of Jesus was his prayer life. He started his ministry with prayer, went through it in prayer, and ended his earthly ministry in prayer. For that reason, a life of devoted prayer is a command. Failure to do this would be to live in darkness. “… he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness…” says the Lord.
Prayer: Dear Father, you have commanded us to live a life of devoted prayerfulness by your written word and by the laid down example of your dear Son and our Saviour. Help us now and everyday to obey this command and by this stand strong and live a victorious Christian life. Keep me ready and ever praying to meet a favourable day on the Lord’s return. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.