This is to me personally a very important issue and to all engaged in the Lord's work.
1) Prayer comes before spiritual blessing. Prayer is seeking God. It is enquiring of the Lord. Trace through the history of the Bible and the history of the Church, and see if you can discern any spiritual blessing that has come which was unheralded by prayer.
2) Prayer is the representative of spiritual blessing. When a king or queen is due to appear, there is often a fanfare of trumpets. When the new Parliament is opened, before the Queen comes, the trumpets herald her arrival. Thus before the Lord comes in blessing, prayer is the herald, the representative of blessing. What a mercy of the Lord to say here in Ezekiel 36 "I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel, to "do it for them; I will increase them with men"".
3) Prayer is an expression of spiritual blessing. We cannot but feel that if God has given a heart to pray, then he has blessings to give generously. There is a very strong connection. We pray. God hears and blesses. How come? He has ordered it to be so. He delights to hear prayer. And he measures out his blessings so that we come again and again and ask him. When we are burdened beyond our ability to cope, and we follow the injunction of 1 Peter 5 v 7, God answers even in the midst of our praying. Prayer is neglected because we have no sense of need. That is natural to us to not feel any need of the Lord. A sense of need is a divine gift. No pastor, no preacher can nag his church into this. It cannot be done. I’ve tried as a pastor and failed in this respect. I think this is where we are lacking. We need to plead for this.
Imagine this – if we received blessings without prayer what would happen?
i) we believe that those blessings were common things, and that somehow we deserved them.
ii) We would take them for granted.
iii) God would not be sought earnestly.
4) Prayer is God's will to grant spiritual blessing. We need not ask if we are doing what the Lord wants us to do, in seeking him. The time is never wasted as we come to prayer. Can churches make greater use of the time afforded? It should be lively! We need to ask ourselves some questions at this point. Do I discern those areas of special need of prayer? Why is it that some prayer meetings can be 'heaven on earth' and others simply drag? Do cold hearts help or hinder? What can I do to realise the purposes of God for me in terms of prayer? Have I made it an idol? This needs some honest reflections and self examination at this point. If the Lord does not give to us a spirit of prayer, we are in dire straights.
Remember it does not come through nagging, but Him giving.
~ Geoff Gobbett