When asked what is the central, most important aim of Christians, everyone has something different to say. From “being a good person” to “becoming like Christ” to “knowing God,” you’ll hear the whole spectrum.
Lately, in a book I am reading on prayer, the author makes the case for prayer being the most important thing. Initially skeptical, I kept reading. Now I’m finding myself agreeing with him. Here’s why:
Prayer the Most Important?
Initially, I was in agreement more along the lines of Foster and Ortberg in Celebration of Discipline and The Life You’ve always Wanted, respectively: to become like Christ. However, the book I’m reading now, Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer makes its first point emphasizing how much our master — that is, Christ — Himself prayed. He makes it a point that though He is perfect, the foundation of His ministry is prayer, that he needs time to commune with God — even the other two persons of the Trinity.
Mulling this over, I consider how prayer walks, prayer meetings and prayer watches are seeing a comeback. Before big events and after trauma we always pray. You’d begin to suspect that this practice rose not emptily but from something substantial that at least used to exist at some time. It’s like at once we see that it has great power, but no one is quite how sure it works… or is it that we have forgotten how it works? Do we even know what it really is anymore?
Prayer: What it Really Is
Expanding further in the introduction, Murray finally makes the point of speaking of prayer as the only way to commune with the Lord Almighty Himself, directly. It is then that I agree with him, then: that when we view prayer as the venue in which we enter into his Mighty presence. Like meeting with a 40-ton semi, when we truly go and meet God, we cannot go and not be changed. Learning to love, learning to be like Christ, learning to teach his word, learning evangelism (and doing it) all become subsets of this. We learn to do as Christ did by becoming like Him. And we become more like someone by spending time with them.
So it is like with our human relationships. How much more is it like with the one who made our relationships in the image of the one that He intended for us to have with Him!
Something to Leave With
As long as we view prayer simply as the means to maintaining our own Christian lives, we will not fully understand what is is really supposed to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us — the root and strength of all other work — we will see that there is nothing we need to study and practice more than the art of praying.
— Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer