When I wrote the last blog I didn’t know it would stir up such reactions amongst so many of our readers. No one who wrote considered prayer just a ritual. What amazed and excited me was the notion that, regardless of your struggles, you continue to pray, and trust God for answers.
You may wonder why in these posts on prayer I haven’t chosen encouraging texts like, “therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11: 24 The reason is, that is not the experience of many of us who pray, and I don’t want people believing God is some giant Santa handing out presents of answered prayer at the whim of every request.
Prayer even in the cited text is conditional upon “believe that you received it.” Jesus pointed out that some people pray in public so that everyone can see them, but those prayers are not the prayers of a contrite heart. Other times, we just know in our heart, that we are praying for the wrong thing. Most often we pray from our own selfishness, hoping against hope that our prayers will sneak by God and He will somehow rubber stamp our want. Ask anyone who prays over winning the lottery how that turns out.
Prayer is relational. It is us talking to God and God talking to us. Prayer isn’t really about getting stuff; instead, it is about building trust in God. It is our way of getting to know that God is there for us through the storms of life. It’s being able to say with Job, “though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13: 15 It’s being able to cry out with David, “away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6: 8, 9 When God spoke to Solomon He was straightforward about their relationship. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7: 14
Foremost, prayer is about confession and repentance. It is being honest with God and saying we are sorry for the mess we have made of things. It is asking God for strength and courage to continue on when everything looks hopeless. Prayer is about humbling our self and turning our backs on wickedness. Prayer is what motivates us to seek out God, and develop the trust to put ourselves into His love and care.
A by-product of spending time in prayer is our faith grows. Many people think that they don’t receive the answers they want in regards to prayer because they don’t have enough faith, so they try harder to build up their faith. But, faith isn’t something you can will through sheer effort. The ironic thing about faith is that we only grow in faith as we pray. In any relationship the more we talk with someone the better we get to know the person and the more we trust their wisdom and insights. In the same manner, the more we talk to God the more we understand His dreams for us.
David spilled his heart out to God. “ How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemies triumph over me?” Psalm 13: 1, 2 I don’t think any of us can answer those questions for David and we probably can’t answer them in our own lives. But, the more we talk to God the more we can say as David did, “but I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13: 5, 6 We might not understand the situation we find ourselves in, and we might not even see a way out, but what is important is that we continue to trust in the “unfailing love” of God regardless.
Please don’t forget to read the posts on the book of Galatians in the Digging Deeper section of this blog.