"As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…"
Yeah, we’ve all heard it before. And in reality, that’s more than likely the prayer we mutter as we crash into our bed, exhausted from the day’s stress. Unfortunately, prayer is something we all too often take for granted. The Creator of the entire universe listening to our minute struggles. Complete solace with our Maker. Undivided attention with the Lord our God.
Sounds pretty powerful, huh? So why aren’t we pumped up about the idea? I don’t know about you, but I get pretty intimidated at the thought. What do you talk about with the Savior of the world? What do you say to the Redeemer of the earth? "Ya know, God… I’d really love it if you’d work some magic this side of heaven… I’m feelin’ a bit stressed."
Who are WE to decide what stress is? Who are WE to dictate our feelings, to decide what to pray for?
Thank God we don’t have to.
Romans 8:26 says, "For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words."
It’s so comforting to know that when we can’t find the words to pray, we don’t need to. John Henry Jowett once explained this phenomenon. "The ability of God is beyond our prayers, beyond our largest prayers. I have been thinking of some of the petitions that have entered into my supplication innumerable times. What have I asked for? I have asked for a cupful, and the ocean remains. I have asked for a sunbeam, and the sun abides. My best asking falls immeasurably short of my Father’s giving; it is beyond what we can ask."
This is so true. I’m amazed at how many times I categorize prayer as a "last resort." I’d rather rely in my own power, trying to fix things myself. This is such a twisted attitude to have. Do we really believe that prayer can change lives? Even more so, do we trust that God will answer our prayers?
Elijah did. James 5:16 says, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." James then goes on to the example of Elijah, who prayed earnestly for no rain, and lo and behold, there was no rain for three and a half years! Elijah then prayed for rain and within one day, down it poured. Simply amazing.
Need more proof? In Genesis 19:16-29, the story of Lot being led out of the burning city of Sodom and Gomorrah is told. And no matter how many times Lot had sinned, he was saved from the destruction. Genesis speaks of Lot hesitating, not wanting to leave his life behind, even as it burns to the ground. So what does God do? Verse 16 says, "When Lot hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful."
Wow. Why such mercy for these sinners? A little background info: Uncle Abe’s been praying for his nephew for decades. Verse 29: "But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain." In other words, God’s mercy extended to Lot and his family because Abraham pleaded for Lot.
So are we pleading for those lost around us? And do we really believe that these requests will change lives? I hope so. And in closing, I pray that we will be encouraged to know that we don’t always know what to pray for, but that the Spirit intercedes for us. I pray that we would have a heart for the lost. That we’ll be burdened by those around us and plead for them. In prayer, and in attitude. Because after all, pray all the time. If necessary, use words.
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