Every night, from between 10 and 12pm, I get a phone call from my dad. I answer the phone and sometimes he asks, “How was your day?” or “How did your stupid class go?” But when I have answered all questions like that, he then asks me, “Are you ready to pray?” To which I reply, “Yes.” Then I proceed to pray and my dad says a prayer after I finish.
For me, this is a normal, nightly occurrence, but I have heard how some people may think that such a tradition is weird or they would feel completely uncomfortable praying where other people (other than Jesus) can hear. But what exactly is there to be afraid of? If you pray out loud, the worst that can happen is for someone to call you stupid… and if you are praying with followers of Christ, that will never happen. There is no prayer too simple, jumbled, or “uneloquent,” because, ultimately, God hears the cry of our hearts and the opinions of those who do not sit on Heaven’s thrown really do not matter at all.
What is so awesome about prayer is that it puts each and every single one of us in a vulnerable place, where we admit, “I don’t have it all together.” And when we come together with a group of people or just meet with an individual and say our prayers where they can hear, then they get a little snapshot of the love and adoration we have for an awesome, faithful, loving, caring, just, and Almighty God. We don’t have all the answers. We are not the wisest or the most eloquent. We don’t live how we need to and we all need healing from time to time. Through everything, God is our sufficiency, our sustenance, but all He wants and desires is to see our hearts, to watch the doors open wide to let His light in every day.
A passage of Scripture concerning prayer that I find myself coming back to again and again is Romans 8:26-27; “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Even when we are alone in prayer, left speechless before an awesome and just God, His Spirit graciously intercedes for us, expressing the groanings that we cannot begin to utter. Though we may feel silly, the courage to pray shows that we have just a little faith, and a little faith is enough to move whatever mountains we face.
Ultimately, we pray because we long for something greater than what this world has to offer, but too often we think that this world can give us exactly what we want if we only try hard enough, pray long enough, or just have enough faith. The truth is that no amount of trying, praying, or faith will ever be “enough” to make the world our oyster; only God is “enough.” We want peace, happiness, joy, and fulfillment, and each of those things can be found in Christ no matter what the outside circumstances. But the groaning in our hearts will still remain, because we labor and groan for a world that is reborn and refined, and only the return of Jesus will answer that groaning. Even if we should never get a glimpse of such beauty here on earth, we know that a full panoramic view is waiting for us.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. (For we walk by faith, not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
Today, whether morning, noon, or night, our heavenly Father is asking us; “Are you ready to pray?” Too often we hesitate, because we don’t know what to pray. Well, maybe it’s as easy as talking; telling the One who loves you how your day went or what happened at class/work/etc. We spend so much of our days in our own solitary walls of spiritual silence, only broken by “Thank You, Lord, for this food.” If more people would be humble before Jesus, then maybe more people who are broken may feel themselves lifted up in prayer and healed of their illnesses, broken hearts, or lost spirits. We as human beings (especially American human beings) are so self-centered, thinking of how we can gain from relationships, time, and faith. Maybe it’s about time that we start praying for ways that God’s kingdom can gain from our relationships, time, and faith; how the lost can gain from our prayers; and how our prayers can start to shape the world around us.
I groan for an eternity with my Savior, for a time when school will cease and all I will ever need to do (and want to do) will be to praise the One Who gave me life, breath, and joy. But I don’t have to wait for Heaven to praise my King, to pray to my King, and to show the world how He is worthy of praise. All I need is a little faith and a lot of courage, but praise be to God that prayers for courage are right up His alley. He knows we don’t have it altogether and He is only too pleased to give us what we need, but why should He give us something that we refuse to ask for, because our pride is telling us not to? … Sometimes, God literally throws our pride aside and places an awesome gift in our hands that we cannot possibly give back. But at other times, we have to be willing to ask God for the big things. I’m not talking about praying for a huge house, a six-figure salary, or a hot date; I’m talking about prayers for patience, humility, contentment, courage, wisdom, and the list goes on in Galatians 5. Those are the gifts and virtues that have an eternal weight of glory; that will remain as the legacy of our souls and very lives.
When we finally stand before the judgment seat of Christ, will we still be defiantly wearing a crooked crown on our heads, or will we have placed that crown at Jesus’ feet long before? There is a wise phrase from a Randy Travis song; “Pray to God before you need Him, and you’ll never lose your pride.” But I will amend that statement; you always need Christ, so pray with His children in the good times and bad, and pride will flee from you.
Are you ready to pray? Well, there’s no time like the present, which is truly a gift from God.
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