Last Christmas, my new son-in-law sat reading a large paperback book. I asked him about it. He introduced me to “Spurgeon On Prayer & Spiritual Warfare,” a 575-page book filled with Charles Spurgeon’s sermons on prayer. There are prayers on why to pray, how to pray, what to pray, and even when to pray. After skimming over my son-in-law’s copy, I decided I needed my own copy. I’ve only scratched the surface of the 54 sermons, but I’ve come to realize two important things about prayer: 1) Do it and 2) Do it earnestly.
How many of us truly believe in the power of prayer? Let’s back up a bit. How many of us Christians truly believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light? Unfortunately, I know quite a few people who say they are Christians but won’t stand up with assuredness that this statement is true. We are so wrapped up in the idea of being judgemental – telling people their way isn’t the right way – that we are willing to give up this foundation stone. We want to put the capstone on our faith by calling ourselves “Christians” without the foundation. In doing so, we shove aside all the teachings of Jesus and how to express our faith out of love, rather than judgement. We also tear down the place Jesus holds in the eternal world.
Let’s say we accept the statement that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light. We are now miles ahead of the Pharisees. This was their stumbling block. So, if we accept this, we need to then look at prayer from that vantage point. When Jesus is our Way and our Truth then we also accept God as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And throughout scripture we are almost begged by God and Jesus to bring Him our trials, our joys, our sorrows, and our sins.
Notice scripture doesn’t say “well, only when you feel you need to pray.” It also doesn’t say to just pray when we are sick or worried. In EVERY situation we are to pray. Upon waking, eating breakfast, hopping in our car for work (or on our computer), when a friend or colleague starts gossiping, when a friend texts you with bad news, when you look out your window and see a blue sky, when you eat lunch, when you are working on a project, when you head home from work, arrive home safely (or after an accident), when you eat dinner, when you start worrying about things on the nightly news, when you lay your head down to sleep. EVERY situation.
I have to confess that God has revealed a painful truth to me about my prayer life. When I am most worried about a situation is when I have the most difficult time praying. I have a hard time slowing my mind down, focusing on Jesus, and asking Him to take control. Back when I was a softball coach, I couldn’t stand watching a game when I was off the field. I wanted to yell out directions to the players (I yell at the TV too). But when I took my seat in the head coach’s spot, I would become calm. It’s because I had some control over the situation. So, when I need to give up my worries it’s like standing outside that fence, letting someone else be in charge. And that is very difficult for me.
We have an agreement, a covenant that God enters into with those who pray to Him and are helped by Him.Charles Spurgeon
In other words, we must acknowledge that God is trustworthy and has delivered us before and He will do it again. Our part is then to glorify Him through prayer and praise. Glorify – that sounds more than just a passing “thanks, God.” I’ve been guilty of that – if I even remembered to thank Him. Which brings me to being earnest.
If we believe that Jesus is the Way and God is the powerful King of Kings, we must honor this exalted position. Would you walk into the Queen of England’s throne room casually and just say, “hey, what’s up Queenie? If it were at all possible would you be able to help me find a new job? I get it if you can’t but maybe you can try.” Casual, and not very expecting. God is God. The One most High. We should come in reverence and expectation. He CAN do all. He has done it all. We need to plead with him, put our heart into it, and rap our knuckles as hard as possible against heaven’s door.
How many of us actually have such low expectations of our prayers? We say them with rote numbness. My family used to say the exact same prayer at dinner time. It comes to mean absolutely nothing and is usually expressed with that same nothingness. My husband and I started praying in earnest this year over our evening meal. We express thankfulness and joy for good things that happened. We ask earnestly for healing of friends and family members. And we ask Him to use us and place opportunities to be His light in this world in front of us. It not only has helped us be in communion with God but it has also strengthened our marriage.
An earnest pleader comes out of his prayer closet rejoicing like a strong man ready to run his race.Charles Spurgeon
I love that visual. After praying all my prayer cards in my “war room” I frequently feel emboldened to take on the world as one of God’s blessed daughters. How many of us who have children (or co-workers) and we’ve needed them to complete a task? We mention it half-heartedly. They pretend not to hear us or just roll their eyes. As a parent and coach, I eventually perfected “The Look.” That’s the look that says “mom is serious about this so it’d better get done.” That’s the look we need to have in our prayer life. Expectation that God will answer our prayers. It may sound sacrilegious to “expect God” to do something in our life but He himself has said to us over and over to trust Him, to ask Him, to plead with Him.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
and forgive us our debts, as
we have also forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but
deliver us from the evil one.”
Do you see the glorification and exaltation of God in the first sentence? Then, the trust and reminder that God’s will is meant to rule the earth. We then ask him to provide for us. Really, using the word “give” is like demanding. Pleading with Him to forgive us. And giving us hope for the future. Man, was Jesus so great with words! How many times have we recited this and not thought about what we are saying? Next time we speak these words make it in earnest, bring some emotion to it! Beg Him to forgive you and help you.
We are ordinary people asking extraordinary things from an amazing, loving, faithful, and powerful God. Throughout the Bible, people just like us asked for victory over large armies, the rain to fall and the rain to stop, for loved ones to be healed and even raised from the dead, for our never-ending ailments to be taken away, for our life of sin to be cleansed. And God abided. He healed us. He saved us. He made it rain. He has showered us for centuries with answered prayers.
We must pray in earnest. It is a supernatural, powerful tool that Jesus gave us. Some of us use prayer like we are brushing our teeth – rote and without remembering all the benefits. Something we have to do. It’s time to take it up daily like a torch against the darkness, a sword against evil, and a golden gift presented to our Lord Most Exalted.