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In most cases, the greatest challenge a spiritual leader has is to motivate himself or herself and Christian people to gather to pray. It is easy to find people who want to do many things but getting people to pray is difficult.
During a National Day of Prayer time, I was praying for our nation, community and church. I concluded that the person who receives the greatest benefit of prayer is the one who prays. The person who spends time in the presence of God will change for the better. The huge benefits that happen when someone prays are only available for those who fight through the temptation not to pray.
Just prior to the arrest of Jesus and before His crucifixion He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with several of His disciples. Each time He asked them to pray with Him, they fell asleep. As recorded in Matthew 26:41:
"He said to them, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
I read that author George Barna indicated that only nine percent of born again Christians hold a biblical worldview. Barna said that few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus because most people do not think like Jesus. One of the most important ways that someone can think like Jesus is by spending time in prayer.
I watched a debate on international television between several major Christian leaders and an atheist. I am sad to say that I had to agree with an accusation the atheist made toward the Christian community. She declared that many Christians speak religious phrases but live in hatred, unforgiveness and anger toward other people. This statement caused me to search my own heart and see if I needed to repent of any of my actions.
Prayer is communion with God. Talking to Him and listening to Him respond is the two way street of prayer. Hezekiah became seriously ill and he poured his heart out to the Lord. God responded to his prayer and extended his life fifteen years. That is quite an answer to prayer!
Jesus talked about the issue of unforgiveness in the Sermon On The Mount.
In Matthew 6:15 He said, "If you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins."
Prayer is essential for forgiveness of sins as well as for spiritual growth. We need to ask God for his forgiveness as well as ask other people for their forgiveness when we hurt them.
As I prayed during the National Day of Prayer I thought about the 30 years I have ministered through Fishnet festivals. Through over 30 years of festival ministry we have cumulatively reached hundreds of thousands of people and through the church we have ministered to a significant segment of the local area population. Each person who has attended a Fishnet festival and their local church are so very important to God. I felt strongly motivated during the prayer time to say to each reader of this article these words: Please forgive me if I have ever hurt you in any way. I may not even realize I have disappointed you, if I have met you. Either way, I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
So what is the greatest result of prayer? I believe that the person who prays changes for the better. People who pray to God will show obedience and humility toward God. Humility will be shown toward other people. Communion with God cannot take place without His presence touching us to become more like Jesus and our walk with Jesus is shown by how we treat others.
Keep praying my friend in public and private, but especially in private. The sincere and humble practice of prayer will touch the heart of God but I believe you will receive the greatest benefit of praying. You will be more like Jesus.