“Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8)
Only a foolish person would suggest that there is ever too much prayer in the church and among Christians. Throughout the Bible we are commanded, exhorted and encouraged to pray. James tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16) and who would dare argue with him?
What we need to evaluate is how much prayer activity is of this kind. It may well be that much prayer activity stems from a wrong motive (James 4:3) or simply to appease our conscience so that we can say we have done our duty. Has God become our Father Christmas who exists to do our bidding and supply our desires? The focus is often on our agenda and not the Lord’s plan and purpose. God has created us to please Him and perform His will not the other way around.
Samuel said to Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22) but how much of our praying carries with it the intention of obeying? If we are to really pray it will mean to really listen as Isaiah listened, heard, willingly offered himself as the sacrifice and obeyed.
It is easier to pray than to obey but that kind of praying, though it may satisfy the conscience, is futile. If prayer does not carry with it the intention of obedience to the Lord’s response then it is worse than a waste of time.
Does God act alone in answer to prayer? Yes, sometimes He does and there are examples in the Bible. More frequently He chooses to work through a person who has offered him/herself as a living sacrifice; the sacrifice of obedience.
A few minutes of obedience will accomplish much more than hours of pleading with God from an unwilling heart to be involved in the answer. If we are willing to obey then our Lord may offer us the privilege of being part of the answer.
Should we pray without ceasing? Most certainly but let us be sure that we have the same heart attitude that Isaiah demonstrated. Isaiah saw a need, brought to the Lord in prayer and was willing to be part of the answer. Humanly speaking this will always involve a cost because it is a sacrifice. Please do not come to the altar of prayer without being the living sacrifice you offer (Romans 12:1) and ready to obey His desire.