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So why has our preaching recently been so focussed on prayer? For me the answer is simple. Few things are more important in the Christian walk than prayer and few things suffer as much opposition as prayer. Prayer is opposed by the devil because he knows its effectiveness. It can also be opposed by our laziness, our lack of discipline, our self-sufficiency, our “do” mentality and by modern culture – a culture of busy lives, rushing around and filled with inputs – phones, emails, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Bill Hybels’ book “Too Busy not to Pray” has the subtitle “Slowing down to be with God”. For me, this sums up the heart of prayer – quality time with God. Bill writes, “Most of us are far too busy for our own spiritual good.”

In a very different age Jesus faced the same kinds of demands and pressures. Crowds surrounded Him and even pursued Him but the Bible records “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Bill Hybels writes that as well as many answered prayers there was an unexpected result of getting to grips with prayer – he got to know God. Surely, that is a much greater prize than any other answer. Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing and that His words were from His Father. When and how did Jesus receive the words and see the Father’s work? God is able to communicate in any way in any situation but He longs for intimate face-to-face unhurried communion so that in the “quiet place” we can not only receive words and instructions but also enjoy His presence, feel His heart, receive refreshment, strength, revelation – get to really know Him.

So let’s follow the example of Bill Hybels and, more importantly, of Jesus and set aside quality time to be with our Father God. Let’s persevere to make this a habit. This will surely transform me, you and the world around us – just as Jesus did.

Tim Mitchell

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