Sunday, a visiting pastor preached at our church, because our pastor was away on vacation. This wasn’t the first time that the slightly stooped, diminutive white-haired man had impressed me. I remember that gravelly voice reading from Isaiah 6, the last time he came, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple…” (Is 6:1).
Like the last time, on Sunday his eyes were sharp behind his glasses. His wit was just as sharp. For 30 minutes, he taught and wove those lessons into stories, laughs, and (for me) tears; he did this without a single note.
He spoke about the necessity of persistent prayer. I needed to hear this. The text for the sermon was based on the Parable of the Persistent Widow from Luke 18.
Have you ever wondered…why pray?
It isn’t something Christians talk about much. It is hard to say now, and I am ashamed to admit that I’ve struggled with doubt, and at times, it has discouraged me from praying. I’ve never doubted God’s ability to carry out His will, but doubt enters in when I try to picture my prayer changing things. I guess you might say that sometimes I lose heart.
Fully believing in the sovereignty of God (His wisdom, authority, and power to completely carry out His plan), I’ve been wearied by the idea that my prayers might be completely unnecessary. Surely God’s plans don’t require my input? Yet, He is a truth-telling God. In fact, He IS the Truth. And He says:
- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7, ESV).
- The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29, ESV).
- The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16, NIV).
How does God’s perfect plan intersect
with our plaintive pleas?
In desperate hours, many of us pray like we are composing a list for Santa Clause…we have no problem asking God to pull a rabbit out of His hat. So, how does God reconcile His heavenly plans with our earthly desires? The short answer is…we don’t exactly know; this is one of the mysteries of God. We do know this:
Some of us get prayer all wrong
and that is what makes us lose heart.
Yet, God is still able to use this for our good.
- Our desires do not always reflect an eternal perspective. Still, praying faithfully, even with a self-centered or short-sighted purpose, keeps us seeking God. It might be the long way around, but as we encounter the Lord, we are changed: “God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature” (My Utmost For His Highest).
- Prayer is about relationship with God, about learning to know Him better…He teaches us, as we share our hearts with Him: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3).
I have known these benefits of prayer, but I still long for a better understanding and more peace about my purpose in praying. In church, I got a new perspective from Pastor Ernie Williams that you might appreciate as much as I do (cliffhanger alert), but I’ve already gone on too long and will have to continue this discussion later this week, so please join me then for a brilliant observation. 😉
Now tell me, are you a prayer warrior, like my mom and my dad and my grandmother before them? Or are you hesitant and uncertain, like I am at times? I would love to hear about your prayer life in the comments!