Thursday, May 6, 2010
Today is the National Day of Prayer. Whoever you are, wherever you are in this Country, today is the day that is set apart for us to cry out to God in prayer.
The prayer that God accepts is one that comes from a humble heart; a contrite heart. It is a heart that understands how limited, how undeserving, how powerless we are and how in need, in desperate need we are of God's mercy. We need Him for everything...for life, breath, health, safety, provision and salvation. We forget these things or perhaps take them for granted on a regular basis. Especially the breathing part.
Jesus taught this parable, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God I thank You that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I posses.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14
So, our correct humble acknowledgment of ourself is essential to God hearing our prayer. He has given us everything we have, why should He be impressed when we recount those things back to Him as though we had something to do with it?
I've heard people ask (and have asked the question myself long ago), "If God knows what we are going to pray before we ask, then why do we pray at all?" After all, Jesus said that our Heavenly Father knows what we will ask before we ask it. Here's what I discovered: Jesus needed to pray and God wants fellowship with us. Those are two separate issues. God wants to hear from us. What if you only got a text message from your loved one and you never got to hear their voice? What if you couldn't hear the REAL meaning behind the message on the screen? What if you couldn't discern the love in their hearts from letters on a page? Could you ever really KNOW they truly loved you? We were made in the image of God, in His very likeness. We desire heartfelt communication because our Creator desires it Himself. We are like Him in that manner. He designed us for communication, not only with each other, but also, just as importantly, with Him.
Think of God visiting Adam in the garden. He walked with him in the cool of the day. Before the fall, the companionship between Creator and Created was perfect and in place. Sin erected a chasm and God promised a bridge. He placed a warring, dangerous angel to guard the tree of life, lest his dearly Beloved children should eat from it in their fallen state and be forever removed from redemption. Now, that's a God who wants His children. Don't you want to talk to Him? Don't you want to tell Him everything you're feeling? In Isaiah the Lord is referred to as the Counselor. Why would you entertain the idea of going to fallen man for counsel when the God of your whole life is there for you 24/7 and absolutely free? And He tells us again and again to come to Him and cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us. That's prayer. A human counselor cannot fix your problems, God can.
IF Jesus needed to pray, then how much more do we? Think that through for a moment. It was my main inspiration for purchasing the painting at the top of the page. My Lord and Savior needed to pray. He was so desperately in prayer at one point that he sweat blood. I've never been that desperate in prayer. But, no one will ever ask me to do what He was asked to do. He was going through the motions in the garden that night. It was the beginning for Him. And my Savior begged His Daddy, please, let it pass from Me. If there's any other way, please, make it happen. I don't want to go through with it, but Father, I will, if You will it.
God the Father said "No" to His Son's plea there in Gethsemane. He said No because of you and me. He knew there was no other way for redemption for any of His other children to happen. He wants us all to be restored unto Himself. And, Oh, I am so glad my Jesus is obedient, even unto death. Aren't you?
Today is a day to pray. So, is tomorrow, and the next day and the one after that. It is a Divine and Supernatural gift to be able to communicate with our God and be heard. It is a precious offering and a wonderful benefit to being His.
Just pray. He's listening.