To pray and not be prayerless

To pray and not be prayerless gallery05-379x269

I love having conversations about Sabbath. It all started with an Old Testament course in university and reading some material from a Jewish Rabbi that put it all together and it made sense. Sabbath is about rest but it really is also about trusting in God’s provisions for each day, for today. It is the heeding of God’s commandment of being observant about God’s own cycle of work and rest that makes this relevant even in our modern economy.

You have six days in which to do your work. Deuteronomy 5:13 GNT

How will God supply when I need to hold a job that needs me seven days a week (or two or three jobs), clean the house/yard, grocery shopping/prepare meals, school work and paying bills? Can I trust God to provide even when I take a day off? Can I take time to worship God, to pray and to gather with others for study and encouragement? I love this commandment because it does not explain how God will make it all work out, it simply tells me to rest one day every seven.

Prayer begins this conversation, as it did in most of our Psalms.

Lord God, my savior, I cry out all day,
    and at night I come before you. – Psalm 88:1 GNT

When life gets messy it never gets messy enough that the sparks of prayer are blown out. They become prayers that I cry out, they are very personal. Sickness will not let me rest unless I spend my restlessness in prayer. It becomes something I do all day. It is where evil is transformed to good. I need to bring them to the Father – my cry is meant for the heart of God.

Hear my prayer;
    listen to my cry for help! – Psalm 88:2 GNT

Though it may be imperfect – hear it – it is my prayer. I understand that there may be obstacles in the way that may impede my prayer – Lord remove them – I need your favour. When I pray day and night, I am in a place where I cannot lose. Only if I were indifferent in my prayer would I be indifferent about it’s outcome.

So many troubles have fallen on me
    that I am close to death. – Psalm 88:3 GNT

How bad are things, how far have I fallen into despair, how full is my heart? There is no room left to have my prayers return empty when my soul is so full of grief. And so I pray believing…

Lord, have mercy on us. We have put our hope in you. Protect us day by day and save us in times of trouble. – Isaiah 33:2 GNT

I have the opportunity of waking up every morning to approach the God of the universe and pray for mercy and to put my hope in Him to protect and to save me. God hears that prayer. He will help me in every way I need help. I cannot think of what it would be like if I ever felt like I did not need to pray like those in the church of Laodicea.

You say, ‘I am rich and well off; I have all I need.’ But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you are! You are poor, naked, and blind. – Revelation 3:17 GNT

It would seem that they thought they could do it on their own, they had everything they needed and may very well have come to a place where prayer did not happen because they were not pursuing God. When I do not pray, I am showing that I believe I am self-sufficient. Is prayerlessness not an indicator of pride? If I am in a place where I can do things on my own, why would I pray? Praying people need God’s help, need Him to provide, not only for me but for others too.

When, after this preparation, you find yourselves yet perplexed and entangled, not able comfortably to persist in spiritual thoughts unto your refreshment, take these two directions for your relief:

1. Cry and sigh to God for help and relief. Bewail the darkness, weakness, and instability of your minds, so as to groan within yourselves for deliverance. And if your designed meditations do issue only in a renewed gracious sense of your own weakness and insufficiency, with application unto God for supplies of strength, they are by no means lost as unto a spiritual account. 

2. Supply the brokenness of your thoughts with ejaculatory prayers, according as either the matter of them or your defect in the management of them doth require. – Owen

Willing to pray

willing to pray

When I think of the Sabbath, I think of it as a holy convocation – where I am called to holy exercises if you will, prayer and praise being key as well as hearing the word and re-committing myself or re-offering myself as a sacrifice to God.

You have six days in which to do your work, but remember that the seventh day, the Sabbath, is a day of rest. On that day do not work, but gather for worship. The Sabbath belongs to the Lord, no matter where you live. – Leviticus 23:3 GNT

In these moments my prayer becomes real  and proves to be the unfailing resource that I have.

I called to you, Lord;
    I begged for your help. – Psalm 30:8 GNT

There is always a day that I can go to the mercy seat of God, the throne of grace. Here I never forget to pray and I never doubt the success of prayer. Prayer is a place of solace that is offered by nothing else. My cry for help will succeed where all else fails.

“Bernard, under a fiction, proposes a fable well worthy of our beholding: therein the kings of Babylon and Jerusalem, signifying the state of the world and the church, always warring together; in which encounter, at length it fell out, that one of the soldiers of Jerusalem was fled to the castle of Justice. Siege laid to the castle, and a multitude of enemies entrenched round about it, Fear gave over all hope, but Prudence ministered her comfort. “Does thou not know,” saith she, “that our king is the King of glory; the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle? Let us therefore despatch a messenger that may inform him of our necessities.” Fear replies, “But who is able to break through? Darkness is upon the face of the earth, and our walls are begirt with a watchful troop of armed men, and we, utterly inexpert in the way into so far a country.” Whereupon Justice is consulted. “Be of good cheer,” saith Justice, “I have a messenger of especial trust, well known to the king and his court, Prayer by name, who knoweth to address herself by ways unknown in the stillest silence of the night, till she cometh to the secrets and chamber of the King himself.” Forthwith she goeth, and findeth the gates shut, knocketh again, “Open, ye gates of righteousness, and be ye opened, ye everlasting doors, that I may come in and tell the King of Jerusalem how our case standeth.” – John King

Prayer is my ambassador.

When I think of trials and difficulties it naturally comes around to money.

God will give us wealth, honor, and property, yes, everything we want, but then will not let us enjoy it. Some stranger will enjoy it instead. It is useless, and it just isn’t right. How are the wise better off than fools? What good does it do the poor to know how to face life? It is useless; it is like chasing the wind. It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else. – Ecclesiastes 6:2, 8-9  GNT

I am challenged to ask myself these questions. Have I wisely handled the material possessions that God has given me? Has the faithful practice of giving generously and increasingly to His work been difficult? Am I willing to pray that God would teach me how to manage my possessions and lead me to be generous in giving even if it means that those same possessions may decrease? Am I willing to pray my money away?

It may very well happen on a Sabbath day.

The prayer is not, that we should not be tempted, but that we should not be brought into temptation: as if, were it necessary that any one should be examined by fire, he should pray, not that he should not be touched by the fire, but that he should not be consumed. For “the furnace proveth the potter’s vessels, and the trial of tribulation righteous men.” – Augustine