Do I Have to Pray Every Day?
If you ask in duty to earn God’s blessings the answer is no.
(Christians should take the words earn, merit and deserve out of their vocabulary when speaking of their relationship with God.)
If you ask in desperation wanting to experience God’s presence to strengthen your faith, empowering you to obey and minister to others, the answer is yes.
You don’t ask “Is it my duty to breathe every day?” You breathe every day to survive!
There is a place for duty in the Christian life and ministry, but that should not be the main thing that drives us to pray. An intimate relationship with God will not thrive in an atmosphere dominated by a sense of duty.
If our greatest desire is enough good stories for our next newsletter update, we won’t feel desperate spiritually. If we long to love God with all our hearts, experience Him and grow in Christlikeness, we should feel daily desperation driving us to prayer.
Psalm 63 is a great example of earnestly praying so that mental knowledge of God becomes heart experience. This psalm was likely written while David was running for his life from his king or from his own son, Absalom.
(Often it takes hardship in life to expose the neediness of our spiritual life.)
Psalm 63 is a prayer, so in writing it, he is in the midst of prayer. But merely going through the motions of prayer is not enough for David. He is not content to say, “I checked the box today on having my daily time with God.” There is a longing in his prayer to connect with God, comparable to a parched man living in a dry desert longing to connect with water.
Is this how we call out to God in prayer?
He remembers times when he worshiped God so intensely he could “see” the glory of God with eyes of faith.
How is this possible?
This can happen when we meditate in prayer on God’s character.
David remembers that God’s saving love is better than the best life he can imagine. He would rather be in a cave and know God’s love than in a palace and be distant from God.
It’s interesting that although God invites us to ask of Him, in this entire prayer, David doesn’t ask for any physical blessings. He doesn’t ask to be restored to the city of Jerusalem or to have physical peace or prosperity. He only wants to worship the Lord and experience Him.
These are the desires at the forefront of his mind and heart.
Is that true of us?
As David begins to remind himself of the stability and steadfastness of God’s love, he begins to praise God afresh.
In verse five David says truly focusing on God in prayer until our heart starts to worship is like eating a spiritual ribeye with all the flavorful fat. When he can’t sleep at night, rather than worry he turns to worship so that his heart is filled with joy.
He reminds himself of times of past deliverance. He feels like a tiny chick, warm and safe, hiding under its mother’s wings.
David has a sense of God’s nearness and protection, not just an academic knowledge of it.
This is one of the greatest joys in all of life.
It is worth daily persevering in prayer to obtain.
Many of us think about salvation and ministry in a static way: “I trusted in Jesus. You can’t lose your salvation. I am trying to serve Him. It’s God’s job to bless me. I’ll try not to get into any ‘major’ sin. Now I can just leave my spiritual life on cruise control. All will be well.”
The Bible never teaches this.
Rather, God exhorts us to an active, living faith.
He expects us to have a prayer life that is desperate and clinging.
This does not imply a life of prayer whereby we work hard in our own strength to twist God’s arm into blessing us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So much of a good prayer life is about meditating on God’s word and nature.
We have a two story fort in my yard. My kids like to climb on the roof. When they were young, I would climb up first to help them. They were nervous and their hands sweaty. I would tell them to let me grab their wrist so that I could wrap my whole hand around their small wrists. They would say, “I don’t feel as secure like that because I can’t wrap my hand around your wrist.” I’d respond, “It doesn’t really matter how tightly you are grabbing onto me. What matters is how tightly I’m holding on to you. Think about how tightly I’m clinging to you, and that will make you feel safe.”
We can often feel that daily desperate prayer is about a duty we have to maintain to build up a spiritual resume so God will bless our ministry. That’s a terrible way to think.
Biblically we should see ourselves as weak, needy, and still filled with much indwelling sin (Romans 7:15-15). If this is true, we should have no confidence in ourselves to live faithfully to Christ each day, much less minister to others.
We must wake and beg Him to fill us full of the Holy Spirit today.
The point is not to pray “hard enough” so God will condescend to give us fruit on campus.
The point is to linger in prayer long enough to preach truth to ourselves about God’s strength and salvation.
The best way to strengthen our grip on Christ is to focus on how tightly Christ grabbed hold of us at the cross.
In John 6:37-44 Jesus portrays salvation as a hand-off between the Father and the Son.
Much of our daily prayer life should be devoted to meditating on their strength and love. They never fumble!
With this inner confidence I can go to campus filled with the Holy Spirit, expecting God to show up in powerful ways.