Just this morning the news alerts on my cell phone have been troubling. There was one about herd immunity as the way to stop the Covid virus. Another told me six Americans in a peacekeeping force in Egypt were killed in a helicopter crash. There is still political upheaval and yet another tropical storm has made landfall on the southeast coast, this time in Florida. And if that isn't enough, Christmas Eve is exactly six weeks from today. Many I talk with ask the same question...when will all this end? And I do not have an answer. What I do know is that there is One who does and we are called to trust Him.
As the civil war raged in this country...sometime between April 13, 1861 and May 13, 1865 president Abraham Lincoln was asked the same question. When will all this end? He didn't have any answer either except to say, ”Sometimes I am driven to my knees by the very fact that I have nowhere else to go.” None of us has the answers, nor do the experts nor does the average citizen, trying to put one foot in front of the other. But we always have a place to go. And sometimes that place is on our knees. You see, we have no stronger connection to God than when we pray. And we can pray anytime and anyplace. God just wants to hear from us. Good, bad or indifferent, God will listen. We can tell Him anything and we can ask Him anything. He doesn't always answer right away...as most of you already know. But sometimes He does! And then we are surprised. When we pray it strengthens our relationship with Him and over time, we grow closer and closer.
We know Jeremiah 29:11, that God knows the plans He has for us but how many know verse 12? ”Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Praying to God is like the red phone that sits on the president's desk...the one all the most important calls come through. God is always listening to us. Prayer is our direct line, the hot line if you will. And in this verse, we see His promise to hear whatever we bring Him.
Paul writes to the Philippians “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6. Many of us go to the Lord in prayer. We even give our cares and burdens with Him...at least for a while. He has told us when we are weighed down with burdens to come to Him. We go when we are troubled and worried, afraid and grieved. We even go to say thank you once in a while. We can take everything to Him. He will take the burdens from us, the worries and fears...of which there are many right now...and He will replace all of that with His peace, the peace that passes all human understanding. But it works way better if we let Him keep the things that trouble us rather than taking them back when He doesn't answer right away.
There is much to pray for right now. Listen to what James has to say. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16. There is no weapon more powerful than prayer because there is no power greater than the Lord. When we go to the Lord in prayer, we receive power and strength. That allows us to be able to forgive another. And that lets relationships be mended. Relationships between us and others, between us and God, between us and ourselves. We are the hardest person to forgive.
Jesus knew the disciples well. He knew their habits, their challenges and their hearts. He knows the same about us. So, listen to what He said to all of us the night He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is Matthew 26:41. ”Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Jesus knows about temptation. He knows about being overwhelmed, tired and a target for the evil one. He has been there. Jesus knows that we humans have a tendency to stray when we get busy or distracted. He even knows we have good intentions...the spirit is willing. So, He invites us to pray, to focus just on Him and His Word. We know us too. And many of us know the feeling we get when we begin to drift away from God. That is when we stop what we are doing and offer up a prayer for strength to stay focused on Him. Because the flesh is weak.
We are called to pray no matter what. ”But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28. Even our worst enemies deserve the love of God. It might take us a while to reach the point where we truly believe that, but that comes with the power of prayer. That is what happens when we drop to our knees because we have no place else to go with what is bothering us. God will provide when we ask for the strength to forgive those who are not at the top of our most favorite people list.
We still have questions. There are still things we do not understand. There will always be people who hurt us and hate us and ignore us. But the One who matters is always there for us. We need only go to Him and ask.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W