Psalms 17:6 I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
I think a common characteristic of those who pray a lot is the faith that they are being heard. I frankly don’t see how someone who is convinced that God is listening wouldn’t pray. We are all too easily persuaded that either God isn’t aware of everything that goes on, or that He just doesn’t care. Neither of those things are true. We tend to think that any difficulty we have means that God either doesn’t care or that He’s mean, when in fact He loves us enough to want us to mature, and we aren’t going to do that without overcoming obstacles. Parents who try to shield their children from every possible danger are doing them no favor. We have had an epidemic of that kind of parenting in the US – and elsewhere, for that matter – and the result has been a generation of snowflakes, who fall apart at being crossed about anything. I think that’s a major reason for the high divorce rate. Every couple has conflict of one sort or another, and generally of several kinds. It is in confronting those issues and resolving them that both partners grow and the relationship is strengthened. With today’s spoiled generation, they are all too likely to throw in the towel. Children need to be taught to deal with difficulties, respecting themselves and respecting the other people involved. In difficulties it’s always OK to ask for help, and that’s a major function of prayer. We can and should ask for wisdom and direction, to know what we should do, and we can and should ask for strength, both emotional and physical, to carry through with what we should do. It is highly unreasonable to ask, much less expect, God to put everything we want on a big pillow and set it down in front of us. If that’s the way we’re praying, we’ll quickly come to the conclusion that “prayer doesn’t work.” That fits in with what James said: “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3) Self-centered prayer isn’t going to teach you that prayer works!
As I have commented frequently, I grew up in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, but I’ve still had to learn a lot about prayer in the years since then. I’ve been preaching a series on prayer for the past couple of months, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s message, I have no idea when it will end, because the topic is so deep. I have learned that God is always listening, so if there’s a problem, it usually means I’m not listening! I personally have a strong distaste for confrontation, but I’ve learned the hard way that seldom makes problems go away. Recently someone consulted me in distress because they were being lied about at work, to the point that they were considering quitting their job. I told them to go talk to the person doing the lying, and only if that didn’t resolve the issue, to go to their supervisor. Last night I got the report that the liar at first denied lying about their coworker, but when pressed, they admitted it and even apologized. The result was a restored relationship and major growth in the person who had been lied about. God allows these situation to grow us as He knows we need to, so praying to get out of every pressure is counterproductive. We need to pray to get through each situation. If we will do that, not only will we grow, we will discover that God is indeed always listening, and He truly cares.
Father, thank You for all that You have taught me about prayer over the years, and for the joy of sharing it. I pray that my words would be fully effective, chosen and guided by Your Spirit, to tear down the lies of the enemy and bring people into the fellowship with You for which they were created, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!