When God created us, one of His objectives was to have a relationship with us as He had with the angels. The enemy of our soul, Satan, has calculated that if he can keep us from communicating with God, then he can destroy that relationship.
The primary way of communicating with God is through prayer. Prayer is a spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relation in which man should not only talk to God, but also listen to Him through the Holy Spirit.
Ellen White puts it this way: “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him”—Steps to Christ, p. 93. Simply put: prayer is the “breath of the soul” in communication with God. “Our only hope to escape the allure of the world is a vital successful relationship with Jesus”—Adult Sabbath School Study Guide, p. 28.
As children of God, we are surrounded with temptations of every kind, and the only way we can overcome the adversary is by maintaining a healthy and constant relationship with God through prayer and the study of His Word. The enemy of our soul is rendered incapacitated when we are connected with the Source of all strength, Jesus Christ.
We have often stated that Jesus is our perfect Example. However, there are times when we overlook His life of prayer. Early in the morning, late at night, and even throughout the entire night, He was praying. He, although divine, was dependent on His Father, and used much of His quiet time to communicate with Him. This was important to Jesus and He gave it priority.
Jesus always sought to do the will of His Father. Even with the weight of the sins of the world on Him, and seemingly about to be separated from His Father, in an act of submission, He earnestly prayed, “nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He prayed to maintain His connection with His Father. Prayer was given the preeminence in His life, not just for Himself, but also for you and me. He prayed for us!
We have been given a clear mission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”—Matthew 28:19, 20 (NKJV). Whereas the mission is clear, we need a good relationship and constant communication with, and empowerment from, our Leader, in order to be effective in carrying out this mission.
Prayer will align our focus and assist us in fulfilling our assignment on this earth. We need to pray to God more: listening, speaking, and listening some more. By asking for, and receiving, a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit, we will be equipped and made ready to boldly take the love of God to a dying world.
We all need to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who was constantly in communion with His Father. That is what gave Him His strength to overcome sin and fulfill the will of His Father. We are constantly faced with temptation, and the devil would love us to take our eyes off our mission, but by giving prayer preeminence in our lives, we can live in total dependence on God.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.