Way Cool! (09.26.05--Teach Me to Pray!--Ezra 8:23)
What’s the one thing that we despise, but it is also the one thing we most dearly treasure? The answer? It is prayer. There isn’t one of us who really wants to do it; but, at the same time, there isn’t one of us who, once it is done, does not feel that it was worth the pain.
Why is it so? Why is it that something we need so much to be good at, we simply don’t strive to practice? One of the primary reasons prayer is such a difficulty for so many of us is that, unfortunately, it is not something that we often approach with sincerity of heart. Although we believe of it, we don’t truly believe in it. We give it lip service but not heart service. Approaching prayer with the understanding that it is the right thing to do but without the sincere conviction that it is really effective is probably chief among a variety of reasons why it is so much despised. When you get right down to it, it is like your car. You believe that it will start every time you get into it in the morning; but deep down there is always that nagging suspicion that there is a good possibility, given the right combination of factors, that it won’t.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. “A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. ‘Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely.’ That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, ‘If God sent that, I’m sure He also sent a doll!’ And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child’s sincere requests, and five months earlier He had led a ladies’ group to include both of those specific articles.” (Source Unknown.)
The prophet Ezra, confronted by some pretty serious faith problems, wrote this: “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:23). Prayer was a process for Ezra, a way of accomplishing God’s will. It wasn’t something upon which to speculate. It was something that God gave His people in grace, thereby it was something that could not fail under any circumstance. There was no taking it for granted or giving it mere lip service. If God says He answers prayer, He will. We pray, He acts upon it even before we ask. As my daughter would say– way cool!
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