The end of the football season is almost upon us and for teams at the bottom things are getting desperate. Very desperate. So desperate in fact that Sam Allardyce, the manager of Sunderland Football Club, has suggested he might go back to church and start praying. At the time his team had just drawn with West Brom, a result that left them languishing in the relegation zone, and after the game Allardyce told the BBC that their only hope now was divine intervention. In other words, he’s getting the sack!
Setting the Premier League to the side for a second, here is a question that’s well worth our attention. What circumstances drive you to prayer? Or maybe more pertinent is this question; what kind of circumstances drive you to prayer the most? I have often looked in to my own heart and wondered about this and what I have found there has not been pleasant viewing. When do I pray most? Answer – when I need to! Or when I think I need to. When I’m standing at a crossroads. When I am wading through one of life’s many tests. When I am sad. When guidance is required. When the AGM is approaching. I usually pray with extreme earnestness and urgency at 10:28 AM every Sunday morning. Some of my prayers when tragedy has struck have been so fervent, and Biblical and nothing short of amazing. And what does all that mean? Well in short, simply this. In some respects (it pains me to have to admit this), I am just like Sam.
Can I take this opportunity to remind you that prayer is more than your SOS call. Of course it can be that and it should be that. Our first port in the storm aught to be the harbour of heaven. But it is more. So much more. Think about this for a moment; prayer is the means, even on great days, by which you speak to your Father who loves you. It is the way you express your affection for Jesus. It is your natural reaction to having some spare time. It’s how you praise and it’s how you petition. For the Christian prayer should be so enjoyable and sweet.
There are many things I long for in my Christian life. The list is so long it couldn’t possibly fit in here. But right at the top of that list sits my greatest desire. It is the same year after year. I want so much to pray more. I want to be sailing along in my car sharing my life, in prayer, with my Lord. I want to be praying so naturally about everything with my kids. I want to pray in the storm but also in the calm. I want what AW Pink was talking about when he said: ‘Real prayer is communion with God’.