You may have heard this verse before, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” And we thank God that it is true. But when I read the verse, I also think of how our faith is so often dependent on crisis.
How many of us only pray when there is some sort of crisis in our lives? Something we cannot control with human means, something we’ve run out of solutions for.
I wonder if less things would boil over into our laps if we talked to God more. You’ll notice that I used the word “talk”. I’m writing about prayer in the context of it being an ongoing lifestyle – almost like a regular phone call home – not just an SOS hotline.
Today I’m thinking of prayer and reflecting on how the simple act of talking to God has changed my life.
Last year, I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Leonard Ravenhill preach at my church. One of the most memorable things he said to the congregation was this: “Prayer is the privilege of stepping into the Control Room of the Universe and meeting God.”
Imagine that. We are so quick to look horizontally to each other for a word of comfort or advice, but we forget we have a similar, even more powerful vertical relationship and access to the Creator of Heaven and Earth! Jesus paid for this privilege with His own blood, and how little we use it gratefully – much less treat it as such.
Dr. Ravenhill offered a framework of “3 Ps” which really summed up who God is when it comes to prayer (the verses are my own personal examples).
Presence: Now that the veil is torn, without a need for anymore yearly mediation, God is very present and available to help us at all times. (Psalm 46:1, Hebrews 4:15-16)
Passion: He wants to help us. (Psalm 40:17, 72:12)
Power: He is able to help us. (Psalm 121:2, John 14:26)
I had such a good time researching these verses on who God is when it comes to prayer and helping us. The Psalms, especially, are bursting with God’s promises to help those He loves.
This is the point: It is rare to find someone whose help for you is always present, willing and able — but God’s help is all these things, all the time!
Some of Dr. Ravenhill’s closing words in that sermon were most remarkable, “God wants us to take hold of our power and authority in Him. No more mere looking up — look down with God and execute!
“Prayer is touching Heaven to change Earth.”
One of my mentors once said: “Prayer is the first recourse, not the last resort.” In one of his sermons, he shared an invaluable framework which he uses to pray effectively with. He calls it “ACTS.”
Adoration is giving God praise and worship for who He is. Confession is admitting our sins to God, who forgives and sanctifies us. Thanksgiving to God is honouring Him, recognising that we owe Him everything. Supplication is praying for our needs or others’.
It’s a very holistic approach to prayer, important angles of prayer that help foster a living, breathing relationship with God. If your prayer only sounds like a cry for help — you can go one step further and do better.
Prayer has been Christ’s chief passion upon ascension (Hebrews 7:25).
S.D. Gordon puts it far better than I ever can: “Thirty years of living, thirty years of serving, one tremendous act of dying, and two thousand years of prayer. What an emphasis on prayer!”
Prayer is what God loves. Now, I want us to step into the Control Room of the Universe for a second.
“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” (Revelations 5:8)
Incense gives off a sweet fragrance when burned. So, what is the incense used in Heaven? It is prayer.
God values prayer. Think about it: When designing Heaven He could have chosen to perfume it with absolutely anything He wanted. Yet He chose prayer — anything else and it would have been unfair.
This is what Dan Hayes has to say on the inequitable nature of prayer: “In prayer, we all, regardless of our differences, have equal access to Him and equal love and grace and power from Him at our disposal.”
Prayer is the divine equaliser, because unlike preaching or worship-leading or teaching, all men can pray.
Thank God for the simple reason that talking to Him is something everyone can do. And when we pray, it brings a pleasing aroma into His home.
Perhaps it’s time we called home more often.