I have recently been working on my prayer life. I just don’t think that I pray enough. When I say that I will pray for people, I do, – but lately, I have been sensitive to people who really need prayer and I need to spend more alone time with God.
I know some world class prayers, especially my friend, Rich. He seems to have a special gift in this area. He is always listening and sensitive to the needs of the people around him. And when he prays, you can’t help but hope that he prays a little longer – because you just know the Holy Spirit is in the room. I’ve known and worked with Rich for about 20 years now and I’ve never been in the presence of a better prayer.
To be honest about it, I can’t pray like Rich. Oh, I try, but I think I’m average if I had to rate myself. And offering great prayers is something that people sometimes expect of me. I’m fine praying in public, or from the pulpit if I am preaching – or at Bible study if Rich isn’t there, but I’ve been around some real tough acts to follow and I have a ways to go before I consider myself in their league.
Dr. Branine, an icon of the faith from my seminary years as well as my friend, Paul, who is now President of the seminary, are examples of godly men who really know how to offer prayers to the Lord. In fact, my cousin, David, is also among that top echelon of dedicated Christians who can cause you to feel in the presence of God Himself when he prays for you.
So, as I said, I am working on my prayer life. Trying to clear the clutter out of my mind when I pray. And trying to pray for things that include the extraordinary as well as the ordinary. There are the usual prayers for people to do well and for the families of those who have recently lost loved ones (A former co-worker passed away this week) and for those who have had difficult times. Sometimes, it’s financial – and at other times it may be a medical issue that requires a painful recovery. Both of these things have happened to friends of mine recently.
But what I really find difficult is to pray for people that I don’t particularly care for. I have been struggling with that the most. Because there is a human part of me that doesn’t want to pray for people who are difficult to love – even as fellow Christians. I guess, to be honest about it, I am jealous of God blessing them when I don’t want them to be blessed. Now, before you get all upset with me, I’m trying to be honest and transparent here – even vulnerable.
I am dealing with one situation in particular that really has me upset. The first day I didn’t even think about praying for this person. Then, I realized that I should pray for them, but didn’t want to. Saturday morning I awoke early and couldn’t help but think that God was purposely awakening me for the purpose of specifically praying about this situation and this person. I didn’t even know where to start. So, I ended up by asking God to help me pray for this person. And I really tried to be genuine.
I think it was a lame attempt – today, throughout the day, I have shot up some arrow prayers every several hours and I am not going to give up. I have even thought about calling the person, but this is one of those things that God wants me to do in private. It’s not important that they know I am praying – it’s important that God knows I am trying and that I am being earnest in my desire for real change with this person.
It would be much easier to not go down this path. Sometimes being a Christian isn’t easy – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. And no matter how mature each of us is in their faith, there is always room to grow deeper in our relationship with God. The verse for tonight is from the short book of Jude. We are told in verses 20-23 of this single chapter book, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy…”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to pray for those we find difficult to be around as much as He wants us to pray for those we love. I know this is a tall order but that’s the expectation of being a Christian. My prayer is that we all may be successful in improving our prayer life – no matter how well we may think we already pray. Furthermore, that we will work on praying for those that are really difficult to love – or even like… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…