Prayer’s primacy

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Every believer will acknowledge the importance and priority of prayer.

And most of those same believers (all?) will also acknowledge that they don’t pray satisfactorily — their attention in prayer is too short, their time in prayer is inadequate, and their prayers feel ineffective.

Reasons abound why we don’t pray:

  • We really believe we are self-sufficient (though few of us will openly acknowledge that)
  • We allow lesser priorities to push prayer out of our schedule
  • We don’t plan to pray (either with our time or with a specific agenda when praying)
  • We are lazy
  • We allow ourselves to get distracted when praying
  • We have no form of accountability in prayer
  • We just don’t think about prayer — and because we don’t think about it, we don’t do it

To that last reason for our prayerlessness, George Swinnock offered an observation I had not noticed before.  While it is apparent that the New Testament regularly affirms the priority of prayer, in his final sermon to his congregation at Rickmansworth (England), Swinnock noted that the apostle Paul not only enjoins prayer, but he letters all both begin and end with prayers:  “Prayer is his salutation and conclusion.”

  • Romans 1:9; 15:13 and 16:24
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-4; 16:23
  • 2 Corinthians 1:2-3; 13:14
  • Galatians 1:3; 6:18
  • Ephesians 1:2-3, 15-20; 6:23-24
  • Philippians 1:2-4, 9-11; 4:23
  • Colossians 1:2-3, 9-12; 4:18
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 5:28
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 3:18
  • 1 Timothy 1:2; 6:21
  • 2 Timothy 1:2; 4:22
  • Titus 1:4; 3:15
  • Philemon 4

Swinnock thus says about prayer:  “The apostle makes prayer the alpha and omega, the beginning and end of all his epistles…Prayer is his salutation and conclusion.”

We do well to remind ourselves daily that the beginning and end of our days and of all our life is fellowship and intimate communion with the Lord.  And we commune with Him through prayer.  To fight prayerlessness, I must daily and hourly remind myself that my life with Christ is bound up in prayer with Him.

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