This is a season for prayer. Every season is a season for prayer.
We believe fervently in the power of prayer. Prayer is a necessity.
Jesus told us we should always pray and not lose heart. (Lk. 18) Some translate the last phrase “pray and never give up.” One lexicon translates the Greek word this way: “To be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.” Looking at the Greek I found myself using this phrase, “not have a bad heart.” I mean that in the sense of a heart so weak that it is all we can do to go on.
“Don’t do that,” says Jesus. How do we overcome weariness? What do we do when it seems hopeless? Pray.
Things happen when we pray. First and foremost, prayer turns our gaze where it belongs – to the Almighty. Most of the time we struggle in our lives relying on our own resources. In prayer it dawns on us that we have the unlimited power of Almighty God behind us and upholding us.
Prayer orients our lives to the Word of God. We remember the scriptures and life giving, oxygen breathing treasures found in the Bible. Thomas Watson wrote in response to the question, “What is prayer?” “It is an offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ.”
Best of all, though, prayer connects us to our savior God in Jesus Christ. The amazing thing about prayer is that it doesn’t depend on us. God himself is within us praying through us for us. Paul writes, in Romans 8, “26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” That is the NRSV. The NIV puts it this way, “26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” The Good News Bible renders it, “26 In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express.” The Message says it this way, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”
These are all similar, but I present them to you because we need to be reminded – and reminded – that it isn’t up to us. We need to remember the good news that God loves us so much that he fills in the potholes of our faith, no matter how jagged the edges or how deep they go. We cannot not pray, because God helps us along with it all the time. The image that just came to mind is of those wonderful new electric bikes which have various levels of assistance as you pedal. If you are weak in your pedaling, the electric motor adds greater power. If you are humming along, it supplies a little less. The point it you are given what you need. Count on it.
Prayer is being in sync with God. The Holy Spirit is in our hearts and minds carrying us, guiding us and healing us.
The Psalms identify God as “Thou that hearest prayer.” (Psalm 65) Who is God? He is the one listening to you. Now and always. He does not tarry. He comes to us.
Paul exhorts the Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” If you ever think you have hit rock bottom, remember this about the reluctant prophet Jonah who did this, “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice. (ESV)
We all have been in a tight spot, but I dare say none of us has had to spend three days in the belly of a great fish! Thanks be to God!
Even there, in the worst place of all, God hears our prayer….
And answers it!
Thanks be to God.
Prayer with me. Dear Lord, everywhere and always you are with us. We might think you are remote or fail to perceive you, but help us to remember your promise to be with us always, no matter what. Enter our souls and help us to pray. You promise to make sense even of our illiterate groaning. Give us faith and trust and patience. Be supreme for us. Help us to be sure that you continue to help us, through all time and eternity. Help us to walk with Jesus who prayed all the time. It is in his name and for his sake that we ask. Amen.