Read: Luke 18:1-8
For the last several days, I've been tracking a package that we are expecting. It began its journey in New Jersey. Then it went on to Sioux Falls, and it is scheduled to hit our door within the next half hour. Even if that timing turns out to be not quite that accurate, I like having a pretty good idea when a shipment will arrive. Don't we all like a bit of control and order in our world? This probably sounds trite, but sometimes, I would like it if the Lord would send tracking up-dates concerning prayer. Can you imagine the joy of hearing Him say that today He is working out circumstances that will result in the salvation of a loved one? Or, how lovely would it be if He would say that His providence is bringing an up-lifting circumstance into a discouraged friend's life today? I know that negates the necessity and the peacefulness of resting on His promises and leaving the details in His hands, Psalm 131:1-3, but I'm simply being honest.
Oh, FYI, the doorbell just rang, and the package is here right on time.
Back to prayer. Today I was reminded that Jesus referred to this amazing privilege as His remedy to keep us from giving up or losing heart, Luke 18:1-8. Haven't there been many circumstances this year that have played out in ways that tempted us to lose heart? So many different on-going struggles that have seemed not to change as the months came and went. If we're tempted, even today, to stop praying, Jesus has a word for us. Don't!
I love the way the Savior compared and contrasted in this parable. He described the worst judge imaginable who cared nothing about doing the right thing. Into this man's life came a widow with a need. Though the judge ignored her, she kept crying out for justice. Finally, out of exasperation and weariness, the judge saw to it that she received what she deserved. Then came the amazing contrast. If a horrible judge would, out of sheer exasperation at long last do what was good, how much more would God do what is ultimately good on behalf of His people?
After all, Who thought up prayer in the first place? It is God Who invites us to bring every request to Him and promises to answer prayer, Jeremiah 33:3. No, it isn't it His habit to send up-dates, but He promises to show us great and mighty things and reminds us that He is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or think, Ephesians 3:20. However, we might miss some beautiful things that the Lord is doing because our eyes are often focused on one particular path and one or two possible things God might do in answer to our prayers. Because of that, it is easy for us to miss His work in another area of our lives. The temptation to stop praying sometimes occurs when a long time has elapsed without our seeing God's hand in a life or circumstance.
Lee Strobel, former atheist and now on fire Christian author, tells a story about a man who was saved in Billy Graham's first crusade in 1948. The man who received Jesus longed for his brother to receive the salvation that he had experienced. So, he prayed. For 48 years and 348 days he prayed for his brother. It was time to give his lawyer brother Lee Strobel's book which laid out the evidence for believing in Jesus for salvation. His brother received Jesus, John 1:10-12. Lee Strobel asked the man if he were ever tempted to stop praying. I love his answer. It was a resounding no because that was his brother for whom he was praying, and he never thought of giving up. Not even after 48 years. Talk about praying with persistence as Jesus told us we should do.
Sometimes we are tempted to stop praying when a circumstance seems so big that we can't imagine how all its knots can possibly be untangled. It is at these times that we need childlike faith. My friend Annette told me about this little incident concerning her grandson, and she said I could share it. They have a little pool, and my friend was going to give their dog a bath in that pool. Little Jackson was appalled that the dog was going to be bathed in his pool. Oh my, the horror of it. Annette soothed him by telling him that Grandma would wash the pool so well that he wouldn't ever know that the dog had been in it. He went away happy, knowing that Grandma had everything under control. He didn't know any details about how she would clean up his pool. He simply let Grandma take care of what she said she would do.
When we remember how big God is, we can put our requests in His hand, even when we don't know how He could possibly work in our situations. I wish I could say that I always do that, but sometimes, I find myself needing help believing, even when I remember how big God is and that His power is limitless. It is at those times that I remember the man who told Jesus that he believed that He was able to heal his son. Yet he still asked Jesus to help his unbelief, Mark 9:20-27. Even though the sorrows and weariness of watching his son suffer caused him to doubt, the man still prayed, and Jesus acted on his behalf.
Lord, help us to never stop praying. Help us to remember Your wisdom, power and love which are all in place as You work in answer to prayer, even at those times when we can't see what you are doing.