It's Time to Pray!
I think it is safe to say that 2022 isn’t panning out as anyone thought it would. As the pandemic rages on and schools struggle to stay open, frustration and discouragement are running rampant. It really is a helpless feeling. It’s time to pray!
Like most of you, I set some New Year’s resolutions for myself. One spiritual discipline I know I need to grow in is prayer. One of my memory verses is Luke 5:16. “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Two words stand out for me in this verse: “often” and “wilderness.” Jesus frequently spent time talking to His Father in an environment free of distractions. While I certainly believe we can talk to God anywhere and at any time, this verse reminds me how important it is to get alone with God on a regular basis. Prayer has to play a meaningful role in our lives. Jesus, in all His humanity, relied on prayer to sustain and strengthen Him. I don’t know about you, but I think we all need some strengthening these days!
As believers we all know the importance of prayer. Why is it, then, that so many Christians today don’t pray, or if they do, they pray only for a few minutes? The barriers are endless (e.g., busyness, social media, lack of discipline, sin, discouragement). Whatever the deterrent is, let’s identify it and commit to making prayer a priority in 2022. Our schools, our communities, and our world are in desperate need of God’s provision and power! We can’t live victoriously without prayer.
This past week as I was reading in Luke 22, I came upon this passage. It will be familiar to you. Read it with me, and focus on what Jesus said and did regarding prayer.
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.” Luke 22:40-46
As I meditated on these verses, I was convicted AND awestruck. Jesus was getting ready to face a series of horrific events that were unfathomable (Luke 23). What did He do? He first encouraged His disciples to pray, and then He prayed – alone. In the midst of great turmoil, Jesus made prayer a priority. He chose to pray first, pray fervently, and pray faithfully.
This definitely is an area of growth for me. I am a “doer.” When I see something that needs done, I jump in feet first. I am learning how important it is to pray first. Asking God to give us wisdom and discernment first can ultimately save us all kinds of trouble down the road (James 1:5).
Praying first puts pride on the back burner and acknowledges that without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). Praying first invites God into our circumstances. God cares about every detail of our lives. I think sometimes we don’t pray about certain things because we think our prayers are insignificant, but nothing is insignificant to God. Do you want purpose, power, protection, and peace in your life? It’s time to pray!
“Prayer guards hearts and minds and causes God to bring peace out of chaos.” Beth Moore
There is no better description of praying fervently than what we just read in Luke 22. When Jesus prayed, He was impassioned, emotional, intense, and sincere. Jesus held nothing back, which was a reflection of His relationship with God the Father. God isn’t caught off guard by our honesty. No matter how frustrated or concerned you are about events in your life, talk to God about it.
When we pray fervently, we bring our whole selves into the conversation. We have to be emotionally invested and do our best to block out distractions. Prayer is not a ritual we do to earn God’s favor. Prayer is about relationship. John Bunyan describes it this way. “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
You may feel a bit insecure about praying this way, but remember that when you go to the Lord in earnest prayer, you aren’t alone. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). Your fervent prayers make a difference. It’s time to pray!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
It all comes down to faith. Do we truly believe God? Do we believe He can answer our prayers, or do we hope He can answer? Do we trust that God knows what is best for us, or do we simply ask Him to grant our requests? Jesus gives us the perfect example of praying faithfully. Notice His specific request followed by His statement of trust. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus wrapped His request in the confident assurance of God’s plan. He could pray faithfully because He knew God’s plan was perfect. As a result, His trust was unwavering. I just love the next verse. Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently. We may not always get the answer we seek, but we can be assured God will give us the grace and strength to handle any situation.
Throughout Scripture we see numerous people who prayed faithfully.
· Hannah (I Samuel 1)
· Jarius (Mark 5:23)
· Moses (Exodus 33:15-18)
· Daniel (Daniel 2:17-18)
· Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-18)
· Thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43)
If you have put your faith in Christ, I have no doubt you have witnessed answered prayer in your own life or in the life of someone else. This should encourage us to always – not just in a crisis – pray faithfully, trusting in God and believing in His complete sovereignty over our lives. God will answer. It’s time to pray!
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
Unfortunately, the pandemic has made doing our jobs quite burdensome. Days are filled with unexpected challenges, leaving everyone feeling drained. It may seem like there is nothing we can do, but that simply isn’t true. It’s time to pray!
· Are you facing anxiety and confusion today? It’s time to pray!
· Are you feeling fatigued and overwhelmed? It’s time to pray!
· Are you experiencing doubt and uncertainty? It’s time to pray!
· Are you happy, satisfied, and content? It’s time to pray!
We must take our cares to One who cares by praying FIRST, praying FERVENTLY, and praying FAITHFULLY!
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18