Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The Have To’s of Prayer

PSALM 63:1 – O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

There are three ways to view today’s nugget theme. All are correct and inseparable. The first two though, probably get more attention than the last, but it is the final one that is more aligned to the scripture of the day. It is also to be a healthy practice among believers. Let’s dive into both “have to’s” when it comes to prayer.

First, we have to pray because we are commanded to pray. In the Parable of the Persistent Widow the Lord Jesus teaches us this “have to” of prayer (Luke 18:1-8). And it isn’t difficult to find many scripture references to praying as an act of obedience. For instance, the Apostle Paul’s direction to the Thessalonian believers simply reads–pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Next, we have to pray out of desperate need for God to work. This we likely do often. When life gets overwhelming, stressful, fearful, confusing, and we feel the swelling up of unbelieving worry and anxiety within in us, we have to pray. And that is right. We are casting our burdens upon the Lord by such “have to praying”-do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God(Philippians 4:7). But there is a third type of have to praying. It is modeled by David in today’s scripture.

David has to pray. It is a “have to” of love, desire, and longing for fellowship with his God. The language of his prayer is intense–“earnestly I seek You, my soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You.” His intensity is not for God to do an act of “emergency intervention” in his life. Nor was he pleading with God for some level of comfort or deliverance in a tough spot. David wants God. David longs for a deep walk with the Lord. And his seriousness is measured in his seeking. This was not a prayer of “It would be nice to know God.” He thirsts for God with an intensity of a person “dying for a drink of water” in a desert place. And David would not be satisfied with anything or anyone else. He has to pray because he has to have his God.

What about us? Are we so desirous for a close walk with God that we have to pray? A “have to prayer” that pulls away from the busyness of life so we may unhurriedly seek the Lord to know Him? Do we know anything of these Holy Spirit – produced longings in our hearts that make us say “no” to the world and go to a quiet place simply to spend time alone with the Lord? The disciples of our Lord were busy with ministry. Here is the dialogue between them and Jesus – The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat(Mark 6:30-31). Jesus isn’t telling them to go on vacation. He is drawing them away from busyness to be close to Him. And that is the fruit of “have to prayer” to know the Lord. We actually come away to desolate places to be with Jesus. Let’s make sure all three types of “have to” praying is in our lives.

PRAYER: “Father, place upon my heart a yearning, hunger, sense of ‘have to’ toward prayer that I may draw near You.’”

QUOTE: “There is placed at a new birth a yearning to be close to God; a thirst that is satisfied in prayer with Him.”

Because of Him,

Pastor Jim