Friday, November 21, 2008

Pray Everyday

So, how is your prayer life?

There are a couple of areas in my prayer life I feel really good about. First, I value deeply the opportunity I have every Wednesday at 3:30 to pray with the Elders of the Woodward Park church. Those are rich, gratifying times spiritually when we, as a leadership team, take the cares and concerns of our church family before God. I grow from the time spent in prayer with men of spiritual maturity.

I also do well praying in times of tragedy. For example, in my last blog entitled “A Day to Pray,” I asked you to pray for the Metheny family. When tragedy strikes and there is nowhere else to turn but to the Lord, I pray with fervency and passion.

But the problem with my prayer life is the daily routine. It's the grind of going before a Lord I cannot see and who does not communicate back audibly to my requests. I struggle, personally and in my ministry, to prioritize the time in prayer that I give to Bible study and class preparation.

On Wednesday evenings, I’ve been leading a class through the life of David. We’re nearing the end of 1 Samuel in our journey and one repetitive theme in David’s life has been very evident. The man after God’s own heart is a fugitive throughout the latter part of 1 Samuel, on the run due to the jealous rage of King Saul. The songs of the nation have praised David, while inciting Saul to envious rage.

When David inquires of the Lord, his life has direction. But when David fails to pray, to seek the Lord, he wanders into Philistine territory, going so far as to settle for 16 months in the shadow of Goliath’s hometown. Due to his failure to seek the Lord, David, his family, and his followers suffer grievous consequences.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps there are times in your life when prayer is difficult. “The problem with life,” one sage has written, “is that it is so daily.” And for some of us, that is our greatest struggle in prayer.

Wednesday before our leadership devoted an hour to prayer, our associate minister reminded us of the teaching of Jesus regarding prayer in Luke 11. The words of my Savior regarding prayer have strengthened me and I share them with you today in the hopes that, if you share my struggle, your prayer life will get a jump-start from Jesus.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness (persistence, tenacity) he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of your fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how much to give good gifts to your children, how much will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11.1-13)!

I need to remember (and perhaps you do as well) that God cannot answer a prayer we don’t pray. And our God, our good, gracious Father who is able to do beyond what we ask or imagine, is sitting at the ready to come to the aid of his children.