Prayer can ensure we have a living and constant relationship with God
I hope you won't mind if I take you back to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. Something quite remarkable happened there. I am sure that you will share my view that rugby is one of the most aggressive contact sports. It's a tough man's game.
Hence, my surprise when I observed those powerful players from Tonga and Samoa gather and bind together on the pitch after their separate defeats. In front of the huge crowds, they knelt and prayed. Watched by many millions on television around the world, these men stopped and gave thanks to God - in their defeat, but in their joy as well, they prayed. Prayer was important for them.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus taught his followers about the importance of prayer. He said: "You need to pray always, and never lose heart." Underlying this was, and is, Jesus' awareness that people might give up and stop praying. Jesus taught: "Even though you might appear to be making no headway, keep on praying! Don't give up! Persist in prayer!"
Jesus told the story about a widow who desperately wanted justice on a particular vital issue against another person. The only person who could deliver justice for her was a dishonest judge and he said "No". However, such was the widow's absolute determination that she persisted. Again and again, she badgered the judge and, through her unremitting strategy of attrition, she wore him down. He gave up and granted her request.
Jesus said that, like the widow with the judge, you and I should persist in prayer. "Never give up - keep on praying."
There is a very simple, but important, story about the effectiveness of prayer - of having a living and constant relationship with God. It is a magnificent, moving story, disarming in its simplicity - but illustrating that prayer does not need to be complicated or wordy. In prayer, God just wants us to be ourselves.
Jim was a serving soldier on an Army base. He was not religious or pious in the conventional sense. As he went about his duties on the base, he popped into the chapel whenever he was passing, and said: "Hi Jesus, I'm Jim!"
Time came and Jim was drafted to front-line active service. Sadly, he was killed and came before Jesus. Jesus said to him: "Hi Jim, I'm Jesus!"