Whilst on holiday we hired bikes for the day to cycle along the north Devon coast.
The guy in the shop suggested I have a BMX and without giving it much thought I took it. Within an hour I was struggling. The bike only had a few gears, small wheels and a low saddle. Annie was gently cycling enjoying the view whilst I had my head down and was peddling like mad. She loved it. I hated it and couldn’t wait for it to end. The problem was simple – I used the wrong bike.
I was reminded of this as I was thinking about the importance of prayer. The God who created the heavens and the earth loves us completely. He invites us to pray and promises to hear us. Yet we struggle to pray. Somehow ‘we have got the wrong bike’ and the experience is not what it should be. We find prayer hard work and not enjoyable. When others get excited about spending time praying we switch off. When we pray we don’t expect a great deal and unsurprisingly we are not disappointed!
John Calvin calls prayer ‘the chief exercise of faith’. In other words, prayer is the primary way our faith should be outworked. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing and he loves us as much as he says he does, his invitation to draw near in prayer is the greatest of privileges. One old hymn writer says God is the ‘inspirer and hearer of prayer,’ and if that’s true then we can expect him to answer our prayers even if it is not always in the way we expect!
As we look forward to all that the autumn holds let’s raise our expectation of what God is going to do amongst us. Let’s not give up the habit of meeting together and let’s joyfully draw near to worship him bringing all our requests and expecting him to answer us. Prayer really is our greatest privilege. As Michael Reeves puts it, our “prayer life reveals how much we really want communion with God and how much we really depend on him.”