Prayer is essential to our life. It fuels our relationship and deepens our intimacy with our heavenly Father. Imagine not speaking to a loved one or close friend. Your relationship would lack intimacy and it is unlikely to last. Likewise, without prayer you cannot know God. Prayer is so important that the Bible encourages us to ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Thankfully, this is not suggesting that we kneel with our heads bowed and eyes closed for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rather, it simply means that we should be conscious of God’s abiding presence with us daily; seek to live a life of absolute surrender to Him - expressed not only by our words but also by our thoughts and actions.
Jesus Himself showed us the importance of prayer. In several passages of Scripture (e.g. Matthew 26:36; Mark 1:35; Luke 9:18) it speaks of Him going to a secluded place to spend time in prayer to God. This is often referred to as private devotions. Private devotions involves the discipline of reading the Bible, praying and spending time alone with God. This discipline not only draws us closer to God but it also empowers us for public ministry. The Bible tells us that before Jesus began His public ministry, the Holy Spirt led Him into the wilderness; after He fasted for forty days, He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit. Through discipline in private devotions, we are effective in public ministry. One good example of this is Jesus’ prayer before raising Lazarus from the dead, in John 11:41-42. Jesus said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me’ (NKJV). This suggests that Jesus had already prayed privately to the Father and His prayer was heard. In other words, this was just His private prayer prayed publicly.
Without a life of prayer in private devotion, when we pray publicly we become like those Jesus speaks of in His sermon on the mount. He said, ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full’ (Matthew 6:5 NIV). In this Scripture, Jesus was not speaking against praying publicly, as some have wrongly suggested; rather He was speaking against praying from a heart that only seeks to draw attention to oneself. Those who pray as such have already received their reward. Therefore, when praying publicly one must have the right attitude and motives; never for the sake of selfish reward but always for the glory of God.
Praying publicly can produce tremendous benefits to the individuals who participate and the cooperate church as a whole. When we come together in agreement through prayer, it brings unity and helps to build up and encourage one another. Whether you are in the same room as the other person or separated by thousands of miles, hearing others lift your life’s burdens to God can be a great source of encouragement. This is at the heart of UCB’s Prayer Breakthrough radio broadcast. It gives listeners the opportunity to access prayer support wherever they are. Listeners send in their prayer requests and praise reports using the various forms of digital media and the presenters, guests, and other staff agree in prayer for their breakthrough.
God has established the ministry of UCB to resource the church. Through the radio and other media platforms, UCB reaches hundreds of thousands of people every minute of the day, whether they are at home, ‘on the move’, or at work. With your support, UCB can continue to bring hope and freedom to people everywhere, every minute of the day.
Rev David Edwards is a full-time pastor at the New Testament Church of God in Crewe, and provides pastoral support to academic staff and students at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Cheshire campus. He is also one of UCB’s trustees, helping to support and guide the direction of UCB’s ministry.
Why not join us for our next Prayer Breakthrough – tune in to UCB 2 on 7th June.