When it comes to the work of God, some mistake service as priority number one. They view labor and hurried activity as what matters most. Busyness is equated with godliness. Such people live by the mantra “What have you done for God lately?” Activity is the standard of Christian achievement. Bible admonitions to “wait on the Lord” seem awkward and strange (see Psalm 37:7, 130:5; and Isaiah 8:17).
I am often encouraged by the reminder of one preacher. He is known for saying, “Prayer is the work!” I believe his words are a much needed reminder for today’s fast-food-like faith culture. Too many believers are too busy to experience real life from God. They fail to see that prayer is the main duty of the Christian life and the Christian church. The Lord instructed us to “Pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and He desired for His church to be known as “A house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). Despite Scripture’s consistent appeals, many are negligent in intercession. They substitute self-driven activity for spirit-dependent abiding. A prayer revival is needed, and it likely won’t occur unless we come to grips with the fact that prayer is our main work. When we work in our own strength, we get what we can do. When we pray in God’s strength, we get what God can do. Let’s examine three things that happen.
God Works in Our Hearts.
Many pray because they want to see a change in their surroundings. Perhaps they want their spouse to treat them differently, they need help in dealing with a difficult co-worker, or they have health concerns. While there is nothing wrong with praying for a change in such things, it is important to note that prayer often accomplishes a deeper, more meaningful work. The greater work is the work that goes on in the soul. God is a God who is more focused on the interior than the exterior (see Matthew 23:25-28). Consequently, He places priority on the former. Prayer doesn’t just change things, it changes you. When you get serious about intercession, be ready. God will use your worship to radically change your heart (see Acts 4:31).
God Works in The Hearts of Others.
The Lord also uses our intercessions to make an impression on others. When Paul instructed first century believers to pray, he made note of this reality. He often described his own prayers for both the salvation (see Romans 10:1) and the sanctification of people he knew (see Philippians 1:7-9). He encouraged others to pray similarly. In his first letter to Timothy, he intimated that the change produced by prayer in the lives of individual believers would lead non-believers to recognize a notable difference. This, in turn, would help believers influence their friends for Jesus, “who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4).
God Works in Our Circumstances.
God also uses our intercessions to accomplish His will in our physical surroundings (see Acts 12:1-7; Romans 1:9-10; Romans 15:30-31; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11; Philippians 1:19; and James 5:15). Some things aren’t possible without prayer. We need God’s help, so we need to pray.