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 (Manna 96: Spiritual Nurture: Prayer)
Manna 96 Editorial: Spiritual Growth through Prayer
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Shawn Chou—San Jose, California, USA

In this fast-paced era, our lives have become busier due to increasing family and work obligations and many other factors. We may come to unconsciously regard prayer as optional or secondary even though we know it is fundamental in helping our spiritual growth. Indeed, maintaining a daily prayer routine is essential for nurturing our faith.

The pace of life and stress can affect a person's faith. However, we should look to the Lord Jesus as our example. During His strenuous three-year preaching journey, His determination to pray never changed. Why did His mindset towards prayer remain unaltered despite His busy schedule and the problems He encountered in His ministry? This is a question we should ponder deeply. In fact, God has long indicated the path of life for us. Through prayer, we come to trust in Him, experience joy that satisfies, and enjoy the blessings He wants to give us (Ps 16:11). In prayer, our minds can be opened to understand many spiritual mysteries and God's word (Ps 119:18). These are key factors for our spiritual growth, enabling us to gain spiritual wisdom (Jas 1:5).

We often do not obtain God's blessings because we neglect prayer (Jas 4:2). Anxiety and burdens arise from not spending enough time in daily prayer (Phil 4:6–7; Mt 11:28). This lack of nurturing leads to a regression in our faith. Hence, we should consider allocating our time wisely amidst our busy lives rather than reducing our spiritual practice when our time and energy feel limited. With a change in our faith mindset, our lifestyle will naturally adjust and gradually return to being God-centered.

Though we understand the necessity of daily prayer, we may not see the need for prolonged prayers. However, prayer can be considered a spiritual battle. Paul describes Epaphras as "struggling" in his prayers on behalf of the Colossian members, that they "may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (Col 4:12, ESV)[1]. The original Greek for "struggling" (ἀγωνιζόμενος) has connotations of wrestling and fighting with an enemy. Persistent and lengthy prayer is crucial for believers to overcome their spiritual enemies. Indeed, our prayer serves as a weapon of victory in the battle of faith.

These are only a few aspects of how integral prayer is to our spiritual growth. Many more are explored in the following pages.

So, let us kneel, bow our heads, and open our hearts as often as we can. Let our prayers rise like incense without ceasing or compromise, to nurture our faith and lift our hopes and longings to the heavens above.

[1] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Author: Shawn Chou