Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just Pray

As I write this blog, I am sitting in my office and my mind is wandering in a thousand different directions. One of the things that has been on my mind tonight is, do we (God's children) really know the power of prayer? We talk about it; we preach about it, we even sing about it…but do we do it? Sometimes the best advice we can receive is to just pray!

We have no problem talking to other people about our problems, whether it is on the phone, email, text message or in person. I am thankful that we can talk with each other and we can have help to "bear one another's burdens." However, we must never get to the point where we rely on other people more than we do God. We truly must learn to "just pray!"

Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 14:12-14:

John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (14) You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Then James says:

James 4:2-3 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. (3) [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.

When Jesus says we can ask for anything, we must remember that our asking must be in his name—that is, according to God's character and will. God will not grant requests contrary to his nature or his will, and we cannot use his name as a magic formula to fulfill our selfish desires. If we are sincerely following God and seeking to do his will, then our requests will be in line with what he wants, and he will grant them.

The test of all Christian prayer is whether it is in the name of Jesus, offered out of our life in Him, and gives glory to the Father. Can we be trusted with the name of Jesus as He was with the Father's name? So much of what we do in the church is temporary and frenzied. It may win compliments and approval from other church people, but it does not give glory to God, nor does it last. We must learn to just pray!

Two children dressed as sheep in the Christmas play at Kaw Prairie Community Church in De Soto, Missouri, had a special part. Whenever Murphy, the main character in the play, encountered a problem, the sheep (Maria and Luke) came on stage to offer a reminder of what he needed to do. One carried the sign: "Just." The other carried the sign: "Pray."

We've all been faced with situations when we didn't know what to do, or there was nothing we could do. When we're distressed, we probably don't want to hear someone flippantly say, "Just pray!" That answer seems too simplistic and can even feel hurtful if it's said unthinkingly.

Dick Eastman said it very well : "We learn prayer's deepest depths in prayer, not from books. We reach prayer's highest heights in prayer, not from sermons. The only place to learn prayer, is in prayer, bent and broken on our knees."

But the simple answer "Just pray" is exactly what we need to do. During the days of the early church, James wrote to believers who were going through trials—difficulties that most of us know nothing about: stonings, imprisonment, and beatings for their faith. He told them to ask God for the wisdom and comfort to withstand those trials:

James 1:5 "Let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

When you encounter a problem, remember the simple instructions of the "Just Pray" sheep and talk to God about it. He'll give you what you need. Amen? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


Jennifer said...

Amen and sometimes, that is all we can do is pray because there is nothing that we can do change a situation or another person's life...but God can. I hold on to that promise to get me through the rough times when I don't have the answer, can't do anything about it or just don't understand. I rest in the peace that my God is in control of ALL THINGS.