Sometimes we want to reach out and seek some confirmation that God is indeed still here. In the Old and New Testament, God interacts directly with people and individuals, but there has been a silence for the past couple thousand years. Like the saints in Revelation, we want some evidence that God still is in control, that He does care. One way we can reach out to God is in prayer.
In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul writes that we should rejoice in the Lord, putting off things that are out of our control through our prayers to God. Paul advocates that a life of prayer results in an inner peace that is unmatched by anything else. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Hebrews 4:14-16 both assure us we have a God who does understand, who wants us to come to Him. Also, I Peter 5:6-7 calls upon us to cast our cares upon our God who cares for us.
There are times when we draw near to God, perhaps in times of difficulty or stress. Jesus teachers His disciples to pray on various occasions. He goes to God several times during His ministry, and if He needed that reassurance during His work, then we do as well. Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18:37, Hezekiah’s prayer when besieged by Assyrians, Daniel’s prayer in the den of lions – in each of these examples, the supplicant looks for assurance and deliverance from God.
In Genesis 18:24, Abraham begins to petition God on behalf of Sodom, and God acquiesces to Abraham’s requests to seek fewer and fewer righteous in the city. Exodus 32:8 records God growing angry with Israel to the point of destroying the people, and Moses interceded on their behalf. In II Kings 20, Hezekiah pleads for a longer life, and God grants his an additional fifteen years. In each of these cases, prayer changes God’s mind.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells a parable regarding prayer, speaking of an unjust judge who relents to the requests of a widow. Jesus rhetorically asks his audience how much more God will care about their petitions than this worldly judge. James 5:15 uses the illustration of Elijah praying that it will not rain. Not only did it not rain for three years, but it was his prayer that brought rain back. Verse 16 reminds us that Elijah was no different than us. God answered prayers before, and He continues to do so.
We demonstrate faith and confidence in our God and His plan for salvation. Why, then, do we find prayer so hard? Is it that we are afraid He has no time for us, or do we have difficulties making time for Him? Jesus led a life of prayer, and we should do the same. We have to pray in humility and pray in faith, but, like our Savior, we also have to acknowledge that God’s will may not always be our own.
Prayer to God is a sacred privilege. It is our avenue to His throne, and it is our reassurance that God is in control. Let us never take such a blessing for granted.
lesson by Tim Smelser