January 22, 2012: How Better to Pray

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know what a privilege it is to talk to You directly in prayer. We know how wonderful it is to sometimes address our Father in heaven, to invoke the Holy Spirit at times, and to pour out our hearts to You. It unburdens us. It comforts us. It makes everything better because we know You always listen and always answer. So, today we ask You to better equip each of us in our prayer life so that even greater blessings may result. Amen


TEXT: John 16: 23: “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

Dearly Beloved By Our Savior, Jesus Christ:

I got a call the other night from my mother’s nursing home. She had had another “bad day,” was upset and confused. The staff thought she might have a rib that had shifted out of place, perhaps that was adding to her upset, and since I’m her power-of-attorney, I have to make any decision about what to do. Well, I agreed she should be taken to the doctor the next day and looked at. I agreed to her being given a low-grade pain reliever to help her rest. Doing all I could, I hung up the phone.

When I went to bed later that night, like you, I prayed. I prayed especially for my mother and my sisters in dealing with one more emotional upheaval stemming from her stroke. I asked God to: “Alleviate mother’s suffering and to calm everyone’s spirit’s for her sake and the family’s sake. Give us a break for everyone’s sake.” Then it hit me. I stopped mid-sentence. I wasn’t praying that last bit right. To be sure, God knew my mind. He also fixes absolutely everything we pray for so that it all ends up suitable and acceptable in His sight. Recall that passage from I Corinthians “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” That being said, why should I ask God to do something for either my sake or my family’s sake? Shouldn’t I ask Him to do it for Christ’s sake? After all, Jesus is our perfect Substitute in all things. Jesus is the One Who shouldered every pain known to mankind—both physical pain and emotional pain. Jesus is the One Who “came to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows.” On the cross Jesus already felt, and suffered for, the sins of the world and all the attendant pain any of us would ever go through. So, Jesus already knows my Mother’s physical ailments and hurts. He already knows and has felt the inner upset of mind caused by her stroke. He knows the helpless feeling both I and my sisters have to put up with, think of that passage: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” In all we go through every single day, in all the troubles and emotionally draining problems you face each week, Jesus has already felt and dealt with that exact same pain. He died on the cross to take its ultimate sting away. And then He arose from not just His grave, but your grave, my grave, and my mother’s grave. He came back to life to give us the gift of eternal life through faith in Him, alone.

So, the bottom line to my prayer the other night was this: “Lord, I pray that You alleviate the suffering and the pain of all involved—for Christ’s sake!” That prayer God cannot ignore. That’s because in Jesus He’s already answered it. Afterwards I rolled over and slept very well. I knew that all of us were in God’s “good hands.” And God never drops any of His beloved children.

My point in telling you this is that: too often we forget exactly what it means to: “Cast all your anxieties upon Him because He cares for you.” Too often we try to play the sympathy card with God and tie His answering our prayer with the depth of emotional suffering endured by those directly affected. And in doing that, even though we don’t mean to, we’re bypassing the One Card that trumps all others in any deck: exactly what Jesus’ suffering and death for us really means, its direct application to our lives, and the infinite love it provides.

The other night God gave me another a new insight into prayer, into HOW BETTER TO PRAY, than I previously possessed. He knows that whenever I’ve asked Him to help hurting souls for the sake of the believers involved–because everyone involved is on overload—He knows what I really mean. He knows I’ve never tried to slight Christ, or downplay His direct help. That being said, God taught me a much deeper meaning behind those words: “For Jesus’ sake.” He taught me anew to focus always on Christ’s power and Christ’s love and Christ’s goodness and Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world and to apply that same power and love by directly interjecting it into my prayers to Him. For all that, I’m eternally grateful. Try it and you’ll discover that by ending late night prayers in that manner, God’s unsurpassed peace will fill your soul, too. Amen