The origin of Christian prayer

Your ability to pray to God sets you apart from the non-believer. This fact can revitalise your prayer life.

By Thabiso Moeketsi

Christians are not like other people. They are different. Yes, you are different from the unsaved! The fact that we still fall into sin does not change that. It simply means that God is not done with us yet. According to the Word of God there are many things that set us apart from non-Christians. Although it is true that we still sin and do so more than we would like to admit, it is also true that we are not completely the same as the unregenerate. We are “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). According to Galatians 4:3-7, now (1) we have been redeemed from the law, (2) we are members of God’s family, (3) and have received the Holy Spirit.

However, the message of this article is not about these three things. According to Galatians 4:3-7, there is another thing that makes you different from unbelievers. That thing is the supernatural origin of your prayer life. Your ability to pray to God is supernatural. It is something beyond any human design, genius and strength. The reason why Christians should make prayer a priority is because God is the source of Christian prayer. Your ability to pray in the manner that God requires you to pray is part and parcel of the package of your salvation. Like every other good gift and every perfect gift it is given to you by God (James 1:17).


How do we know that God is the source of Christian prayer? Galatians 4:3-7 gives the answer to this question. According to this passage, there are two convincing proofs that your ability to pray is a supernatural engineering of God.

1. We can pray because the Son of God bought us with his own blood

To say that Jesus is the Son of God is the same as saying that he is God, the second person in the holy Trinity. According to Galatians 4:3-7 this same eternal son of God had to die for us to have access to God, the Father. Enmity and alienation between us and God had to be abolished and recon­ciliation accomplished before we could pray “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9). And God did it by sending his Son into the world to die for us and make us his children.

The birth of Jesus happened according to God’s plan. He was born at the right time and for the right purpose – to make us God’s sons and give us access to God. According to Galatians 4:6 when we became God’s sons, God gave us his Spirit so that we can pray to him. Paul says “because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” We had to be made God’s sons before we could possess the ability to pray to God in the manner he requires us to pray to him. That makes your ability to pray a supernatural thing. God’s Son died for you and through the Spirit this truth is confirmed in your heart.

2. Your prayer is continuously sustained by the Holy Spirit

When Paul says in Galatians 4:6 the Spirit is “crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” he is using the present tense. This indicates that what he is talking about here is not a once-off experience of the Spirit’s activity in one’s prayer life, but a continuous ministry of the Holy Spirit in our prayer lives.

When you became a Chris­tian your body, became the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Yes, your body, despite the colour of your skin, your height, body weight, age, level of educated, level of spirituality, background or the size of your wallet. God gave Him to us to be his mark of ownership or seal on us. How­ever, in this verse Paul is talking about something the Spirit con­tinues to do in the believer’s life throughout his or her Christian life. We need the Holy Spirit to come into our lives at the moment of our salvation before we could start praying biblically. We also need his help to sustain our prayer lives after we have been saved. Christian life is a life lived in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

If you want more proof that Christian prayer is a supernatural work of God, just think of this: All three Persons of the Godhead are involved: (a) The only reason we can pray is because Jesus bought us with his blood, (b) God the Father gave this ability to us by his Spirit, (c) and the Holy Spirit sustains our prayer life throughout our Christian life.


What implications does this truth have for your prayer life?

Every Christian should thank God for all he has accomplished and given to us in his Son Jesus Christ – including the gift of prayer. If prayer comes from God and if it is energised and sustained by his Spirit, there is really no need to try to manipu­late him with many words and long prayers (Matthew 6:5-8). The fact that God is the source of Christian prayer implies that God is interested in our daily lives and wants to meet our every need (James 1:17). The biggest blessing God wants to give us is himself. Since sin grieves the Holy Spirit and builds a wall between us and God, every Christian should use God’s resources to fight sin in his or her life (Ephesians 4:30; Isaiah 59:1-2). We should follow the Spirit’s promptings to pray. Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:19) says we should not quench the Holy Spirit. Trust God to answer your prayers. This is done by not giving up when you pray for something or someone (Luke 18:1-8; Matthew 7:7-11). Give thanks for your answered prayers (Luke 17:11-19). There were ten lepers but only one returned to thank Jesus (verses 17-19). Because God is the source of Christian prayer, prayerlessness may be the sign of the absence of the life of Christ in the soul, despite one’s claims of having a real relationship with God.

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