I first got excited about prayer when I was a student. Our church leaders had suggested to us that the student congregation start a prayer room where we pray through the night, around the clock.
I was the cynical one in the room who said she didn't think it would work, but I was so wrong. It was awesome. I learnt how to pray in those prayer rooms, but more than that, I fell deeper in love with Jesus. I had grown up in a wonderful Bible teaching church but it was in those prayer rooms that Jesus really captured my heart.
Over the years, the most powerful prayer meetings I have been to are the ones where the church family has gathered and earnestly sought God to answer a prayer of healing for a loved one, someone known to the church family who is close to death. In one of those meetings I remember thinking, 'Imagine if we prayed this earnestly for the lost!'
Every day we are surrounded by people who are lost and don't even realise it. But does our personal and church prayer life reflect this?
I grieve that it is often the church prayer meeting that is least attended. The church in the West is busier than ever and I hear rumours of a quiet revival that is happening in our land, but we will always be in danger of getting too comfortable. We'll always be in danger of falling asleep – choosing comfort over Kingdom, getting distracted by life's struggles and becoming so 'me' focused that we forget that we are living for something and someone much greater than ourselves.
I grieve that my own prayer life isn't what it should be. I am terrible at fasting. I spend far too much time on Twitter and social media reading other people's frustrations with the church and occasionally joining in, when instead I could be praying.
The call to prayer throughout the Bible isn't a call to legalism, it's a call to a deeper, more joyful, more contented life walking with Jesus. The more we pray, the more we will treasure Jesus above everything in our lives. The more we lay our hearts open before God, the more God is able to transform us, filling us with his Spirit, enabling us to live our lives for his glory.
And the more we live our lives for the glory of God, the more we become who we were really created to be and the more alive we feel. As we pray 'Thy Kingdom come', instead of 'My Kingdom come' – yes, we may increasingly walk the narrow path, a path of laying down our own lives for the sake of others, but as we do that, we follow in the footsteps of the greatest being who ever walked this earth.
Lizzie Bassford is a wife, mum and missionary living in inner-city Manchester. Follow her on Twitter @captivated01.