God’s messengers must tarry long with Him, if they would have success in their work. The story is told of an old Lancashire woman who was listening to the reasons that her neighbors gave for their minister’s success. They spoke of his gifts, of his style of address, of his manners. “Nay,” said the old woman, “I will tell you what it is. Your man is very thick with the Almighty.” {Gospel Workers 255.2}

Matthew 6:6 – But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

It can be easy to miss the obvious.  I was eating a meal this weekend with some friends, and after loading up my plate with food, I looked around to see where the forks were.  I asked the person next to me if they had seen them, and they responded by indicating (with a smile, of course) that they were literally six inches right in front of me in plain sight.  Did I mention I need glasses?

I think prayer is so obvious and basic to Christian spiritual pursuits that it can be missed.  Oh, it’s only prayer.  For most of my life I’ve preferred to spend my devotional time reading and studying.  It felt more real and substantive.  But the immediate perceptions are not correct.  Prayer is vital.  If reading and studying the Bible is compared to the physical actions of eating, prayer would be breathing.

As I look back over my life, it’s not coincidental that the times I have felt closest to God were times that I was praying, and praying regularly and consistently.  Whether that was with a friend who was a prayer partner, or by myself.

(As a quick aside, I find that the physical act of writing the generalities of my prayers helps me immensely.  If I don’t do that I am disorganized and scattered.  I also don’t forget what I’m supposed to be praying about.  (As an aside within an aside, I don’t refer to this as my “prayer journal.”  I’m a guy.  I don’t have a journal or a diary. ;) This is my prayer notebook).  Alternatively, some people find that praying out loud accomplishes this for them.)

I’ve had to overcome an attitude of “Oh, it’s only prayer.  God knows what I’m thinking anyway.”  That really misses the point.  There is seriously a power in prayer, and there are things God won’t do for us unless we ask.  That’s the way it works.

Let’s take prayer seriously, and by seriously I mean we need to put some time into it.  I’d love to have the effects of prayer so apparent in my life that people would say I’m “thick with the Almighty.”  Let’s not miss the benefits of what is right in front of us.