Let’s be honest, all of us who proclaim to be Christians have had moments/seasons when it was hard to pray. David, who was considered “a man after God’s own heart”, went two plus years without praying to God (Read 1st Samuel 27-30). The disciples of Jesus Christ couldn’t stay awake in the garden when Jesus was going through one of His toughest spiritual battles before He went to the cross. Below is the account from Luke when Jesus and the disciples were at the Mount of Olives before Judas’ betrayal.
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”-Luke 22:39-46 (ESV)
I was recently convicted when preparing a teaching for teenagers the importance of prayer. When you read the account of a young boy healed by demon possession in Mark 9:14-29, Jesus tells the disciples that the demon could only be cast out through prayer (some translations have fasting & prayer). A few verses earlier, Jesus rebuked the disciples by calling them a faithless generation. Clearly, Jesus is trying to remind the twelve disciples, and us today, to put our faith and trust in Him. While there are many reasons why we must rely on the weapon of prayer, here are at least two.
1.) Prayer Indicates A Dependence On God
When we pray, we are showing humility that we cannot rely on our own strength. Let’s look at what is considered the “Lord’s Prayer”:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9–14 (ESV)
Did you notice how it’s God’s will we must seek and not our own? What about the fact that we must seek the bread of life (Jesus Christ) daily? How about the strength to forgive others and protection from the evil one? It all comes from the Lord and the help from the Holy Spirit. Many of us, including myself, have tried to battle the spiritual forces on our own and have come up empty handed. Let us have humility to recognize that we can’t do this on our own and we need the divine power of Christ to intercede for us.
2.) Prayer Indicates We Trust God
All of us have some type of struggle that we need to depend God on, but do we trust He can come through? I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times I have had some lofty and shallow prayers and didn’t have faith or trust that God could come through. My wife, Rachel, and I were looking through the book of James and I was convicted by James chapter 5;
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”-James 5:13-20
Some have used these verses to blame the person who is sick for not having enough faith to be healed, but actually it is the elders/believers who are called to have faith for the person to be healed, whether it is a spiritual or physical healing. That’s convicting! If we, who are called to pray, lack faith or trust, we are doing a disservice to the people who are calling us to pray! Let me caution us all not get upset if a physical healing doesn’t manifest itself right away or at all, even if you are praying in faith. While we would love to see a physical healing take place, Jesus reminds us that a spiritual healing is more important.
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”-Luke 10:17-20
A personal example that relates to this subject was my grandmother Eunice. When I was a baby Christian, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer around 2014. She started treatments, but unfortunately they didn’t help. Towards the end of 2014, the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do. While I was heart broken that I was potentially having Thanksgiving and Christmas for the last time with my grandmother, I prayed and asked God for a miracle to heal her physically and for to be born again.
As 2015 began, the doctors told my grandmother she had until sometime in March. She started hospice care and nurses were at her house constantly. When March 2015 came, the cancer had quickly spread to the point the doctors said she had about two weeks. While things weren’t looking good for a physical healing, I still wanted the opportunity to share the gospel with my grandmother. I continued to pray and ask God to give me an opportunity, and He did. When my family was visiting her, I had the opportunity to just spend some time alone with my grandmother. As we were talking, I could tell she was very upset and wanted to cry. I asked her “Grandma, wants wrong?” She replied with tear, “Mike, I’m scared to die. I know all the wrong I have done in this world and I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want to be punished by God.” After that, I was able to present the gospel message in away my grandmother would understand, and by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus! She had more peace about dying, and was excited to go home with Jesus. As her days and hours were come to a close, we read the book of John to her, and on 3/16 of 2015 she went home to the Lord. If you were to read the verses of John 3:16, I don’t find it a coincidence that she passed on that day.
Let me close with this, while my grandmother didn’t have a physical healing, she did have a spiritual one and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. While I deeply miss her, I often wonder if she did have a physical miracle and was still alive today would she have had a spiritual one as well? It’s easy for us to say yes, but when I read the accounts of Jesus Christ and all the physical healing that took place, there were many who still didn’t believe He was the Messiah. While I will never know the answer to that question, I am grateful that through humility and faith in what God can do, He was able to save my grandmother from eternal damnation.
I don’t know who you are praying for and what miracles you are hoping to see, but I encourage you to continue to depend on the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer. Let His will be done in your life and those close to you. Don’t get discouraged when things aren’t going the way you were hope, but keep trusting in Him because His ways are higher then ours, and Jesus Christ is known for doing things in ways that seem unconventional to us.
Michael A. Kubus