Prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s life. Too often, however, Christians are either unaware of what they should be doing or they do not have a good grasp of what prayer truly means for their lives as Christians in this world. Prayer is also essential in communicating and relating with Christian brothers and sisters. The phrase “I’ll pray for you” is used very often but is rarely done. If only Christians would understand the purpose and the power of prayer, they would do what they say more often.
The exploration of the purpose and power of prayer motivated Dr. Munroe to write about the topic and help Christians understand why they need to pray and be in touch with God.
The Purpose and Priority of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Christ came to save humankind and enable the Church to become his partners in establishing His kingdom on earth. When He came to the earth, he healed the sick, He made the blind see, made the cripple walk and even raised the dead. Today, more than ever, He works through the Church to show the world His love and His compassion. Christians therefore are part of His plan in bringing about the changes that he promised.
Dr. Munroe said that the act of prayer is an affirmation that Christians do believe, affirm and participate in the unfolding plan of God. Prayer is a way for them to connect with God and help intercede and pray for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth. Furthermore, as Christians, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us authority and prayer is an expression of this authority. In fact, he said that “prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference.”
As the partners and friends of God, we, like Abraham and other persons of God before us, could communicate, ask favors, and intercede in behalf of those we love before God. With prayer, we can become intercessors and mediators before God since this is part of the authority that Christ has given us by virtue of the sacrifice He made on the cross and based on the authority He has bestowed upon us under the new covenant of grace.
Preparing for Prayer
For many people, prayer seems to be the last resort in dealing with difficult situations in life. Even Christians sometimes only approach God when they need money or they need help out of difficult situations. In this case, sometimes prayer becomes a one-way street that a Christian enters into because of his needs. This is the correct way of treating prayer. Instead, Dr. Munroe admonishes Christians to use prayer to enter God’s presence. Sure, God longs to bestow His blessings on His children, but more than that, He also desires a close relationship with them.
For Christians who feel like their prayers only bounce on the ceiling, Dr. Munroe provides several principles in preparing oneself to enter the presence of God. He encourages believers to cultivate the kind of faith that is expectant for God to answer. However, he cautions against simply praying without doing anything. He draws upon several biblical verses and principles that show that action should be in partnership with faith and prayer. He offers ten steps to preparedness in prayer. Although such steps might seem formulaic, it helps new believers to prepare themselves.
As they mature in the faith, however, they can improvise and to state it proverbially, they can take the plunge and dive into the life of prayer. Dr. Munroe also encourages Christians to practice the “God kind of faith”. This faith is active and not passive. The persons who exhibit this kind of faith actively seeks ways in which they can participate in God’s will.
Principles of Prayer
In Part III of Dr. Munroe’s book, he expounded on different principles related to prayer that can be gleaned from the Bible. He explained the significance of Jesus’ model of prayer. Although Jesus enjoyed the company of His disciples and the accolades of the public that He preached to, he nonetheless cultivated an attitude of prayer that sought to establish His connection with God the Father. This expression of His relationship was foremost among His priorities.
The Lord’s prayer also received significant attention from Dr. Munroe’s books and he explained its significance for Christians today. Instead of perpetually asking God for favors like a genie in a bottle, Christians need to understand that prayer is essentially an expression of the relationship that they have with God.
Dr. Munroe also offered twelve action steps to prayer, which is meant to help believers actively participate in seeking God’s answer to prayers. Although such steps may seem to be a simple list, they can help believers focus themselves on the task of praying and seeking God’s will. In addition to this, Dr. Munroe also listed down several hurdles to answered prayers as well as the hindrances. These hurdles may be in regards to the level of faith of the Christian praying or because of wrong motives. In order to deal with these hurdles and hindrances, the Christian should put himself right with God and examine his intentions and his desires in seeking for the prayer items.
The Power of Prayer
Because of the authority that God has given to Christ and to the authority that Christ has given to His followers, we have do have power through prayer. The power of the word and of the name of Jesus in prayer was expounded by Dr. Munroe. Naming things that believers desire in accordance to God’s word is an important part of prayer. And yet, even if some desires are not uttered, the Holy Spirit enables believers to pray with “groans that words could not express.”
Yet, through the name of Jesus, believers do have access to the throne of grace. Fasting is also another way for believers to empower their prayer lives. Through fasting, believers can focus their energies and discipline their bodies. It is a way to empower one’s prayer and help discern what God wills for one’s life and for the world.
Prayer seems to an underrated part of Christians’ lives. In this regard, Dr. Munroe provides a good handbook on prayer. The issues relating to the prayer lives of Christians, the principles behind it, as well as the different hurdles and hindrances were explored in the book. This way, Christians would understand better the purpose and the power of prayer and they will be able to claim these for themselves.
As the world proceeds with its breakneck speed and the increasing demands of work and other pressures on the lives of Christians and pre-Christians alike, Dr. Munroe’s book can help Christians change their perspective on prayer and start practicing it so that they, too, can participate in God’s plan for this world.