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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Priority of Prayer

O God Listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety
for you are my safe refuge
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
      (Psalm 61:1-2)

A few weeks ago I came upon a very touching video on Facebook. It was a short, 5 second clip of Jacob Abedini. Jacob is the five-year old son of Saeed Abedini, who is currently imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith. In this short video, little Jacob is pleading with God in tears and asking Jesus to bring his daddy home soon. Jacob's little prayer broke my heart, but it quickly reminded me of how much our prayers and tears mean to God.
Jacob's very short prayer is a perfect example of the priority of prayer in our lives. How important is prayer? Think of it this way. Prayer is like breathing. Ask yourself this question. How long can you live without oxygen? Without breathing? Not very long! Our existence depends on it.
In the same way, our spiritual life is depended on prayer. Most of us unfortunately are trying to exist and survive on tiny bits of oxygen very day and if prayer is like oxygen, then we are slowly suffocating ourselves.
A great example of a lifestyle of prayer is found in the book, "Captive in Iran," by my dear Facebook friends, Maryam and Marziyeh. Locked behind bars for 259 days in Evin Prison in Tehran, Maryam and Marziyeh spent their entire captivity reaching out with the gospel and praying with political prisoners, lesbians, drug addicts and outcasts. They had a reputation of being "the Christian ladies" who would pray for everyone's needs. Many of the women prisoners were desperate and broken down by the sorrows of life and needed someone to just listen to their hurts. Maryam and Marziyeh listened with compassion and held hands with them, praying and crying out to God for their needs.
On one occasion, Marziyeh prayed with Mana, who was having a hard time sleeping because of nightmares. As Marziyeh began to pray, Mana began to cry saying she felt so peaceful and relaxed. The next morning, Mana was so excited and shared with Marzieyh that the night before she had asked God to reveal to her the truth about Jesus. The very next morning a friend, who knew nothing about her prayer, handed her a wooden cross that she had made at the craft center. "I can't believe God would answer my prayers so quickly!" Mana shouted for joy, "I know its a sign that all of your words about His love are true!"
This is a great example of when we are obedient to God in prayer, sometimes He replies quickly with an answer that strengthens and encourages our faith. 
In my own life, God has blessed me with incredible answers to my prayers. I remember spending three months interceding
 and praying, crying out to God, that all charges would be dropped against Maryam and Marziyeh, and they would be finally be freed from their imprisonment. God faithfully answered my prayers and the prayers of many Christians all over the world. Not only did he answer my prayers but He also gave me the privilege of connecting with them on facebook to become their friend.
The Psalmist, from the depth of his being, cries out to God, "Oh God listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!"
God delights in hearing from his children. We have a love-relationship with God through Christ. If we truly believe this, then praying should never be a dull or boring activity, but instead it should be an adventure, a time of delight, where we are like children sitting on our father's lap and telling Him what's on our hearts.
That's exactly what little Jacob did. He "climbed up on his father's lap" and in simple words, not flowery language, but in simple child-like words, he asked his father to bring his dad back home to him.
God wants you and me to have the same child-like attitude like Jacob. So if its been awhile since you've prayed, why not begin again today? If its getting a little hard to breathe, than prayer is definitely the answer. Your Father desires to hear from you.