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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Praying through!

In I Samuel 12:20-25, we read these words the Old Testament prophet to the Children of Israel: "And Samuel said to the people, "Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they are vain. For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king." (my emphasis).
In that 23rd verse that I have emboldened, we find God’s verdict on the prayerless life, or the one in which there is a lack of persistence.  Not my verdict; not the verdict of some erudite theologian; not the verdict of any, or all, of the various denominations that make up the church of Jesus Christ; but the verdict of Almighty God, Himself, given in His Word, through His servant.  If we do not pray, we are guilty of sin against Him.
Sometimes folk speak of ‘praying through’ – praying about a situation until it is fully resolved, and we are released by Holy Spirit Himself from having to continue to pray about it.  However, we live in an age of instant action.  I expect to hear of news from the other side of the globe as soon as it happens; I expect my computer to respond instantly to every electronic command that I give it; I’m surrounded by instant this, and instant that – from coffee to microwave meals – things that even a couple of generations ago, were unheard of.  And it seems that, in these days of instant action, some would treat God as a sort of cosmic vending machine – push in the prayer, and out come the goods!  Perhaps we need a reminder that, while instant answers do sometimes come (and that they are not always positive!), there is a process of prayer that requires commitment, dedication, and persistence.
Some of us need to spend more time in prayer – bringing others before God; bringing situations that effect others into the light of His searching gaze; seeking His will and purpose for our own lives – which isn’t necessarily the same as our own desires!   And some of us need to learn that prayer isn’t all one-way – us speaking to God with a shopping list of even laudable requests.  We need to slow down, and learn to wait in His presence, allowing Him to speak to us.  Remember, the Lord didn’t come to Elijah in the wind, or in the earthquake, or in the fire; but in the still, small voice.   It’s often only through such travailing, two-way, prayer – the sort of praying that requires effort, persistence, even pain – that the purposes of God are brought to pass.  
“Unfortunately, many of us are through praying when we need to be praying through” (Trevor Partridge, CWR)

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