Summary: What if I told you that you could increase the success of having your prayers answered? Would that peak your interest? Did you know that God’s Word makes a distinction between prayer and crying out to God?”

Psalm 107: (4) Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. (5) They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. (6) Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.

(10) Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, (11) for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.

(13) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.

(17) Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.

(19) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.

(23) Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.

(27) They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wit’s end. (28) Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.

Average Life Span For Humans: 25,550 days!

Several years ago People Magazine published an article entitled, “Dead Ahead,” telling about a new clock that keeps track of how much time you have left to live. It calculates an average life span of 75 years for men and 80 years for women. You program your sex and age into the clock and from then on it will tell you how much time you have left. It sold for $99.95. (1)

Moses doesn’t lean on gimmicks. He goes right to God’s word and tells us, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have strength” (Psalm 90:10 NIV). From the oldest Psalm in the Bible, we learn we have an average life span of 25,550 days.

I did a little math the other day using this concept and came up with the following length of lives for several age groups:

If you are 10, you have an estimated 21,900 days left

If you are 20, 18,250 days

If you are 30, 14,600 days

If you are 40, 12,775 days

If you are 50, 7300 days

If you are 60, you have 3650 days.

Many would love to know how much time they have left in the journey of life. Would it make any difference in how you lived if you knew? Be careful how you answer! The problem is, this type of emphasis will not improve our life.

Have you ever been lost in the mountains? When you finally find another hiker on the trail, you are relieved to ask directions to your campsite, only to have that person tell you, “You can’t get there from here. You have to go back down the trail 5 miles and start from the other side of the mountain!”

Focusing on ourselves will always leave us missing God’s purpose for our life. Let’s take the advice that Moses offers in Psalm 90:12, “Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)

There you have it! Do you see it? You can’t get there from here, unless you start with God.

“…Lord, teach us…”

So it is with the New Year! You will never arrive at God’s plan and purposes for the New Year by starting with a focus on yourself.

“Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life”. Romans 8:6 (Message Bible)

Paul is telling us that you can’t get there from here if your starting place is with self. There is no better place to start the New Year than by giving special attention to the role this prayer plays in the life of every person.

These days everyone seems to be praying, Christians and non-Christians alike. I talked to a parishioner whose husband was in the hospital because of cancer and she said, “I can’t believe all the pray that is happening for my husband.”

It seems that even celebrities are praying. On the sidelines of the 2003 National Championship game between Ohio State and Miami, the camera panned the sidelines and found several 300-pound linemen for the Ohio State Buckeyes praying. Then the camera panned to the Miami Hurricane sideline and found several 300-pound linemen praying on a crucial 4th down. I wonder whose prayers were answered?

Almost every week on the nightly news, someone refers to prayer. It is everywhere these days: We’re praying for our nation, praying for the economy, praying that we don’t go to war, praying for the safe return of a kidnapped child.

Everybody is praying, but not everyone is getting the results they want. Some pray and leave the outcome to chance, kind of like wishing upon a star. God wants us to cry out to Him in our hour of trouble. He tells us this in many of the Psalms:

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