April 1, 2016

1 Samuel 12:23 “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”

This needs to be taught in every seminary and displayed in every pastor’s study. Preachers are taught theology and techniques, but too seldom are they taught to pray. We act as though human thinking and human activity could bring the kingdom of God! We forget that we are totally dependent on Him and that both we and the flocks under our care belong to Him. I have heard “religious professionals” speak of Bible reading and prayer in a dismissive fashion, as though they were unimportant, and statistics show that preachers, in America at least, spend precious little time reading the Bible other than to prepare sermons, and their personal prayer life is practically nonexistent. No wonder the churches and the nation are in sorry shape! We fail to realize that failure to pray is sinning against God, when we have been charged with caring for His people. Anyone who takes the time to really think about it will realize that there is literally no end to the things they could profitably pray about. There is no family without issues of one sort or another and no congregation without them either. Simply going through the church roll, or in a large church, even a list of the church committees, should yield vast quantities of things to pray about, and that doesn’t begin to touch on the issues in our communities and nations and in the world at large. Not every individual is called to pray for every issue, but we at least need to be seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance actively, so that He may show us what and how to pray. (Romans 8:26-27)

I’m preaching to myself here. I tend to be overwhelmed by all there is to pray for and retreat into prayerlessness as a result. That’s certainly not the answer! When the issues pile up, the first part of the prayer that Jesus taught comes to mind: “Father in heaven, may Your name be recognized as holy. May Your kingdom come as Your will is done absolutely perfectly, right here on earth, in every one of these situations.” That should be my continuous prayer, whether I am actively “in prayer” or not. I am still very much learning prayer. The tension between praying in faith and praying persistently is hard to manage at times. I need to pray about that! I will never forget the time the Lord told me very clearly that there is much in the world today that He’s not happy about. He didn’t say it at the time, but I know that all this evil exists only because of human free will, and that as the Bible makes clear, in God’s perfect timing it will all be made right. Meanwhile, I am to offer myself in prayer as His agent, His instrument to bring His will to pass right now, even before the end of all things. I cannot explain why it is this way, but many times I have seen God take the words His Spirit prays through me to change things, if not to perfection, then certainly at least to far better than they were. That should make me eager and faithful to pray, but I still have plenty of room to grow.

Father, thank You for this reminder. None of this is new to me, yet I still am not as consistent as I should be. Help me keep growing, to get past all the distractions and apply myself in prayer as You desire, so that Your will may be done indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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