Growing up in western Pennsylvania, at times we would drive into the city of Pittsburgh to see a sporting event or to eat a nice dinner. From the west side of Pittsburgh, you have to travel through the Fort Pitt tunnel, which connects with the Fort Pitt bridge which crosses the Monongahela River. As you enter the three-quarter mile tunnel and then emerge, the city unfolds before your eyes — giving a magnificent view.
As a child, as we passed through the tunnel I held my breath to see if I could make it to the other side. Depending on traffic, I usually succeeded. Sometimes in bad traffic, the length of the tunnel won. I gave up, and inhaled a huge breath of air, relieving my burning lungs. The welcomed air gave me life and gave my body the energy to enjoy the city of Pittsburgh. Without the air, I would not have been able to enjoy the city, and for that matter, life.
Similarly, how long can you spiritually live without prayer?
As Christians we ask for prayer. We tell other we will pray for them. We are praying people. However, do we see the need for prayer within our walks with Jesus just like we need to breathe to remain alive?
Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” The apostle also tells us in Philippians 4 to petition God for everything and make your requests known to Him. Likewise, Luke portrays Jesus as a man of prayer more than any other gospel writer.
We see Jesus prayed at His baptism as a dove descended and a heavenly voice acknowledged and approved Him. Immediately after this time, the Spirit drove Jesus, fueled by prayer at His baptism, into the wilderness as the devil tempted Him for 40 days.
Next, Jesus sought his Father’s will through an all-night prayer vigil to choose His closest disciples. Luke 9 again revealed a praying Jesus who began to question the disciples as to who they believed Him to be. Peter acknowledged Jesus’ true nature as the Christ immediately after Jesus prayed.
Further in the same Lukan chapter, Jesus took three of His disciples to the mountaintop to pray. In light of the Father’s revelation to Peter and during a time when Jesus prayed, He was transfigured and revealed His true nature to these three disciples. Jesus continually sought his Father’s will throughout His entire life through the medium of prayer. He relied on prayer just as He relied on air to breathe.
What about those of us who claim followership of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we see the need to pray as Jesus did? Are we praying to be ready for the onslaught of temptation from our enemy? Do we seek God for discernment in any and all decisions of our lives? Jesus relied on the communion with His Father to sustain Him through life. How about you? Are you holding your breath or praying to sustain life?
Dean Clark is a member of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. He earned an Ed.D. in Leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.