What We Do: Pray
In Proverbs 24:10 we read, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” In these days, many have been swallowed up by fear and anxiety. Many have retreated to self-protection strategies. Many have turned inward. But this is not the way God’s children respond to trial. So, what do we DO as God's children? What does it look like to stand firm in the faith? What does it look like to keep our eyes looking upward and outward? Over the next couple of weeks, we want to encourage you to pray, to love one another and to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
What We Do: Pray
I have a confession to make. I struggle to pray. I’ve been a follower of Christ for about 32 years, and yes, I’m still a 1st grader in the “School of Prayer”. Sometimes it feels like a laborious task. Sometimes it seems like an exercise in futility, because after all, God already reigns, rules and controls all things anyway. Other times, it looks like one of those public bulletin boards where each of my prayers is tacked or stapled on top of the previous ones until all I have is a big confusing mess. I’m guessing that some of you struggle to pray, too.
The Disciples Struggled to Pray
Fortunately, we are not alone. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Don’t miss this: after traveling around with Jesus for years, seeing hundreds of miracles and even being sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God, His disciples still struggled to pray! I take comfort in this truth.
But, let us not mistake struggles to pray for excuses to neglect it. Did you know that there are roughly 650 prayers in the Bible? Men, women and children prayed to God. Even Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, prayed…a lot! Indeed, from the beginning of time to this moment today in redemptive history, God’s people have been characterized by prayer.
Three Truths About Prayer
So, let me share with you three truths about prayer that God is teaching me right now:
Prayer is an intimate conversation with our Father. Intimate conversations characterize relationships. In his book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller says that if we want to grow a relationship, we must create private space, time together with no agenda, where we can get to know one another. One of the most precious examples of this is in John 17. Jesus is having an intimate conversation with God. Six times in the prayer, Jesus calls God His Father, indicative of the intimate relationship they experienced. Three times, Jesus speaks of His oneness, His union with God. Jesus’s prayer models relationship with God. This is what prayer looks like: an intimate conversation with God where we get to know Him better.
- Prayer is about depending upon our Father. If I’m honest, probably the biggest reason I struggle to pray is my perceived independence driven by pride. Some of you may remember the 80’s sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” Well, my pride answers that question, “ME! I AM THE BOSS!” And prayer reveals the truth that my pride seeks to hide–I am NOT the boss. I need the Lord. I am dependent upon Him. That is why over and over in the Bible we are consistently told to ask God for help. He is our Father. We are His children. He delights to see us ask Him for help. And He delights to provide it.
- Prayer is the answer to anxiousness. Do you ever wonder why God tells us not to be anxious so often (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34; Philippians 4:6)? Perhaps it’s because He knows it’s a problem, and because He commands us not to be anxious, it must be possible to obtain peace. How? Well, as it turns out, by praying. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our anxieties upon Him precisely because He cares for us. So, we pray knowing that He cares, and this brings calm to our stormy lives. Prayer is the balm that heals our anxious souls.
Friends, in this uncertain time, let us enter into deep, intimate conversation with our Father. Let us fully depend upon our Father. Let us cast our anxiety upon our Father. Let us pray. And who knows? Maybe God will continue to grow my prayer life and I’ll become a 2nd grader in the “School of Prayer”. But for now, time for me to pray.