The Bible is all about God, and that is why the practice of prayer is so pervasive throughout its pages. The greatness of prayer is nothing but an extension of the greatness and glory of God in our lives. The Scripture is one long testimony to this truth.
In Genesis we see every one of the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—praying with familiarity and directness. Abraham’s doggedly insistent prayer for God’s mercy on the pagan cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is remarkable (Gen 18:23ff). In Exodus, prayer was the way Moses secured the liberation of Israel from Egypt. The gift of prayer makes Israel great: “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deut 4:7).
To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God. It is a sin against his glory. “Far be it from me,” said the prophet Samuel to his people, “that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you” (1 Sam 12:23). King David composed much of the Psalter, God’s inspired prayer book, filled with appeals to “you who answer prayer” (Ps 65:2). His son Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem and then dedicated it with a magnificent prayer. Solomon’s main petition for the temple was that from it God would hear his people’s prayers—indeed, Solomon’s highest prayer was for the gift of prayer itself. Beyond that, he hoped those from other nations would “hear of your great name . . . and pray toward this temple” (1 Kings 8:42). Again we see prayer is simply a recognition of the greatness of God.
Excerpt from PRAYER by Timothy Keller
Reprinted by arrangement with DUTTON, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2014 by Timothy Keller