In Prayer – Does it Make a Difference Philip Yancey writes,
“I have sometimes found that I get an answer to my persistent request after I have learned to do without it. The answer then comes as a surprise, an unexpected gift of grace. I seek the gift, find instead the Giver, and eventually come away with the gift I no longer seek.” (p. 154)
Someone else once summarized that the answer to any prayer is God Himself. Jesus said that when we seek first the kingdom of God He would look after all the other things. We need not even give them our attention. God looks after His own. (See Matthew 6:33).
This is why Paul could say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13).
Paul did not need to learn many things, i.e. how to be content when in need, how to be content when hungry, how to be content while living in plenty… No, he had only to learn one thing: to abide in Christ… to be in his Presence always, to “pray without ceasing,” as he urged the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:16).
Prayer is essential. It is as essential to one’s spiritual life as breathing is to one’s physical life. In fact, it is more important, for physical life is temporary, but spiritual life is eternal!
When a newborn babe comes into this world an abrupt slap on the rear is sometimes required to ‘kick start’ that first breath. Thereafter the child needs no further instruction in it. It gasps, and then simply continues throughout its physical life.
Do you need a spiritual “slap on the rear?” Paul got a slap on the rear as he journeyed along the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-7). Thomas received one when he saw the risen Lord (John 20:28). Peter gasped out to God as he began to sink on the waters (Matt.14:30). He is all around you now, waiting for you to reach out… to grasp… to gasp… (Acts 17:27). Gasp out to God now, cry “Abba! Father!” Then… pray… without ceasing.