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♣ Praying or Playing? (Audio Devotional)

spirit of prayer

“…this people draw near with their mouth and honour Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from Me and their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men…” – Isaiah 29:13.


IT IS EASY to put on airs and graces when praying in public and such prayers may sound sweet to the ear and with enough weight to move the heart, but how genuine and sincere it is may well be another thing. Impressive praying may sound theologically correct, but can be so far from the courts of heaven. The Pharisees ‘prayed’ – exhibited in their case – wonderfully, that’s why people loved to hear them and they in turn loved to be heard, but we can be certain that heaven was closed to their playing, for anything falling short of real praying is deemed to be just that and nothing more.

Rarely do you find believers who pray eloquently as well as from the heart. Oftentimes real praying is not as smooth and likeable as we desire them to be, but one thing for sure, heaven is reached and the presence of God is known and felt among the people. Is that not what praying is – direct contact with God? It is talking with God, not just a one-sided conversation. Have we ever thought that the heart of prayer is where we are brought into the ways and thoughts of God; it is God impressing Himself upon us where we are brought to respond to Him appropriately – or more so, to pray in the Spirit.

Words do not always account for true prayer. We insist that it is. Very few words will carry more effectiveness at times. True prayer is being at one with God, a conscious cleaving unto Him because we fully realise we are nothing without Him and our need of Him is desperately great. It is a cry unto Him, a breathing of desire expressed beyond words. There is an agony, a struggle as we realise our infirmities and it is here at this point where we embark upon being led by the Spirit, Who truly intercedes through us. This should come as no discouragement to us, but an inspiration to persevere, just as Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “Pray until you pray” and it is just when we almost begin to enter the atmosphere of prayer that we give up, thinking that we have sufficiently prayed.

Prayer is one of the hardest things for a Christian to do, but the easiest of all things once we rise above all that would inhibit us. Distractions are prevalent today with so many things demanding our attention. We say we have not the time to pray as men and women of old use to, but in all actuality we do not have the luxury of time to say we do not have time to pray. This is one of the biggest lies of our adversary. Have we come to the point of truly realising that nothing shall be accomplished to what God has called us to without much prayer? If it took our Saviour all night to be in prayer in regards to choosing the twelve apostles, what makes us so unique and different to cut it short or even avoid it altogether?

The saints of old would see Satan tremble when they truly prayed, despite how desperately weak they felt in themselves. The Devil will do all he can to keep us back from true prayer. He is more than content to see Christians playing, but to be praying is the aspect that catches the attention of our enemy with keen interest. It not only rings true but proves to be true what John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer”, but we ‘brilliant’ theologians will dispute that who have not tasted what the spirit of true prayer is. “Ah yes, if I would attempt great things for God, and achieve something before I die, I must pray at every moment and in every place” – Alexander Smellie. Leonard Ravenhill said, “If I had my way, I wouldn’t open another single Bible seminary in America; what we need are prayer seminaries.” Ravenhill firmly believed that we are of a generation of Christians that not only do not pray but do not know how to pray. Have we equated that to pray is to walk with God? Do we measure our lives by how much we pray?

Duncan Campbell said, “If you want to measure the spiritual life of a church, look at its prayer meetings.” Renowned churches may be full to the brim on Sunday mornings and evenings, but if you want to measure the spiritual life of such a church, then observe the midweek prayer and Bible study meetings. I have attended theologically correct churches, but their pre-service prayer meetings were abysmal, absolutely no life in them whatsoever. That is scary; that ought to alarm us greatly, because if we can attain theological competence, but our prayer life is poor, we are walking in the strength of the flesh; we are walking as unto the ways of man, while a lost society carries on fast straight to hell. To talk in such a fashion is so outdated today because God is not real to us and if God is not real to us, then neither is hell – we are falling sway to the secular shifting culture around us.

The way back to the Church being reignited (or revived – a terminology we are all too familiar with) is to enter into habitual prayer and to keep on praying until God comes. It may take days, it may take weeks and it may take months, but in that time God will refine all our motives and desires until we long for nothing but Him, until we cry, “God come or we die!” Are we ready for that; are we prepared for that agony, or are we content to carry on playing?

God hears real praying, praying from the heart, no inhibitions and no concerns of what the next person to us may think of us. Our only audience that should concern us is God; that His presence be made known, that He hears us and that we have the assurance that He will answer our cries. Such words may be few, but behind them, a broken heart, breathing after God will not be turned away.


Heavenly Father, we are eternally indebted to You for opening up the way through Your Son to freely come before You and yet prayer can be one of the hardest aspects of our walk as believers, when it ought to be the easiest. It is indeed our means for existence; without it we fall prey to all that would hinder us in pleasing You. So many of us are in that place of asking You to teach us how to pray. We can say all the right words and impress those around us, but You know our hearts, Lord and you desire Truth in the depths of our innermost being. Cleanse us from all pretence and shallowness. Thank You, Father for the way in which You bear with us, desiring and decreeing that we come to that place of being real before You. Thank You, for the means that you design to break us of our foolish self-reliance until we breathe God-reliance – not just say it, but feel it and live by that very motto. Heavenly Father, we ask that you would visit us anew with a baptism of prayer until we see it as being the highest vocation anyone of us can amount to. Men and women of old prayed – really prayed and wonderful things happened. We live in a generation where prayer is so little thought of and so little is seen as a result. Teach us, Lord, the reality, necessity, essentials, weapon and power through prayer for Your name’s sake we ask this, Amen.

NOTE: You may also listen to the audio version of this devotional here :: Praying or Playing :: Audio Devotional




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