Tuesday, January 29, 2008

praying through

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray....confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

James 5:13,16-18

How often when trouble comes do we just throw in the towel and give up. Or we settle for some easy solution, so we can go on with our sleepy lives.

The teaching of praying through is verified time and again in Scripture, from Jacob to David to Esther to Daniel to Jesus himself, and followers of Jesus. Too often we settle for rather sleepy, half-hearted prayer, and while that might be better than no prayer at all, yet it's not the kind of praying God is necessarily going to hear, as in answering.

This takes effort on our part. Effort against the grain of who we are; effort willing to get off our face and deal with any sin issue that needs dealt with. Effort to be there for others, interceding for them, as well as for our own needs.

Praying through also requires time. It takes some serious time. If this was so with Jesus himself, how much more so with us, his followers! Praying through requires faith that is focused on God and on God's promises to us in Christ.

Too often we settle for some substitute that soothes us, or makes us forget our trouble. But God wants us to get serious before him, and get our petition or request out to him. He alone can do what needs to be done, but he uses the prayers of his people to accomplish much of what he does.

For some, this will impinge on the sovereignty of God. But not so. God's sovereignty has a certain sense of mystery. In the mix is our prayers and the acts of faith we do. God's gracious sovereign rule is at work in every aspect of the human side of work, but it remains for us to do it.

I like this rendering of James 5:16b:

The prayer of a person living right with God
is something powerful to be reckoned with.

The Message

And this translation of the verse:

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

ESV

I also like Eugene Peterson's rendering in the spiritual (I take it, primarily as against spiritual entities) warfare passage of Ephesians 6, concering praying in the Spirit:

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters.

The Message

There is much more to be said in regard to prayer. Here and here are two good places to consider.

What might you like to share with us about praying through?

15 comments:

preacherman said...

I have prayed through serious illness and what seemed to be a huge financial trial. God can do answer the greatest of difficulties that life brings our way. Why? So, we can be a testimony to power of Jesus Christ. So, we can share the power of pray in the lives of those about us. God can destroy walls that Satan puts up in our lives. Jesus can free us from Sin! But, he can do more than that. He can free us from debt, from a broken family, marriage, relationship, financial difficulty we are in. Satan is powerful; but Jesus is more Powerful! Prayer holds the keys to a new life in Christ! Jesus came to give us life abundantly. Jesus that is eternal life with Him. It doesn't mean that we wont have problems along the way but Jesus is right there with us giving us strength, hope, meaning for the next day to live.
So, keep praying through!

L.L. Barkat said...

I used to think of prayer of something I do, something I formulate and send off. But now I'm thinking of it as something I receive. And if I don't receive anything, I more often refrain from speaking. Or I find myself asking what I should be praying. Of course, prayer has so many aspects. Perhaps this is just the one I'm learning about right now!

Rachel Mc said...

It seems the majority of my life has been praying through one difficulty or another. But I must say I too have learned that prayer can not only change the situation but change me. I think that my changing was more important than the situation changing. Now I am working on not being a "part time" christian who has a few good, intense days/weeks and then when life smooths out stops praying, reading the bible, etc. I am working on making prayer a habit, even when I don't feel like praying or I don't know what to pray for.

NaNcY said...

handing over our burdens.
giving up control.
asking is a form of allowing.
relationship with our God.

Come and listen in to a radio station
Where the mighty hosts of heaven sing
Turn your radio on, turn your radio on
If you want to feel those good vibrations
Coming from the joy that His love can bring
Turn you radio on, turn your radio on.

Turn your radio on
And listen to the music in the air
Turn your radio on and glory share
Turn your lights down low
And listen to the Master's radio
Get in touch with God, and turn your radio on.

Everybody has a radio receiver
All you got to do is listen for the call
Turn your radio on, turn your radio on
If you listen in you will be a believer
Leanin' on the truths that'll never fall
Get in touch with God, turn the radio on.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Preacherman,
Thanks for the good words and testimony. We need more examples of this in front of us. Jesus tried to encourage prayer in his parable of the unjust judge after which he remarked, "When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" Faith is displayed in this kind of shameless audacity in prayer, or not giving up kind of praying.

Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I have much to learn on praying. I too have received so as to pray, as surely every child of God has experienced at different times. But it is good to enter into it, in fact I would think even essential for true prayer, to begin to learn what you're learning.

It reminds me of Stan Firth at Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta. I, a summer nightwatchman, sometimes would see him through his window, very early in the morning, in his praying especially for missionaries and others. It seems he practiced something of this, as I caught him seemingly waiting in much silence before God.

I need to cultivate this. And would like to learn from you on it.

Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Yes, faith as a way of life, no matter what one faces. A walk of obedience, no matter what the cost. And prayer, as well as the reading of the word, being so much a part of that.

I've come a long way over the years from what I once was, and once practiced. Yet I feel I have such a long way to go, in following Christ as we're called to do. I want prayer to be a way of life, so that like Charles Spurgeon, in all his busyness, it seemed he was always breathing prayers to God. I want that kind of life as well, but in company with believers like yourself- who together call on the Lord out of a pure heart (in Timothy, or Titus).

And yes, part of why we encounter difficulties, or the Lord allows that- to help us grow up in our faith. In all this, even at my age, I feel I have alot to learn.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Nancy. Thanks for sharing that song. I probably make it complicated and difficult myself, compared to you. Oh to have more of the faith of a little child.

It does seem in Scripture there are those times of prolonged and rather agonized or at least difficult intercession to God. I think of Elijah, Daniel, Jacob, etc.

NaNcY said...

yes i agree, there are many times that it is difficult. sorry, i was not being very understanding.

many times things that happen that are hard to handle and i do experience this. and i do understand. and so it is good to pray for one another always. because we do not know what others are going through or might go through. there is always the need for it. there are many reasons for prayer, and i do not think that i know all of them. so i just accept that God has many good reasons for me to do it and over time i will be shown more about it.

and then ther is the question of what prayer is. what it is has as many answers as there are people because God knows and speaks to each of us personally and we have our own relationship with God.

my prayer changes over time and with things that are requested and things that happen...these are reactions and then there is change that happens in me with prayer, and there is change in prayer because of the learning and changing.

you have said here that it takes effort. why does it always take effort to do the things that are good for us!? but, it is true! it takes effort.


though, i would like to say as a reminder that prayer is talking to God...that relationship that is so necessary. and there is nothing that we or anyone else can do to take the place of the time and energy that we must spend there. and when we do it is the best time we can spend. and we recieve energy and blessing. if not right away then in the long run of the race.

NaNcY said...

plus, i have the advantage
of not being very intellegent.

much easier to keep things simple when one has to.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Thanks for your thoughts there. Good to so ponder.

To have the faith of a child as in trusting implicitly is the kind of intellect we need!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I mostly think that I'm not sure what prayer is - and therefore, I may be praying a lot or a little - and I wish I knew which.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan,
Yes, I think I know what you're getting at, though I want to learn so much more about this. Having a heart open to God at all times and conversing, and out of that, conversing with others.

Paul talked about all kinds of prayers and petitions. And Richard Foster has an interesting book on prayer in which he talks about different kinds of praying Christians have practiced through the centuries, and still do.

Maybe there's as many different ways of praying as there are people; I don't know.

Thomas Aquinas had an experience with God that, though he, perhaps even more brilliant intellectually than Augustine, felt afterwards all his renowned writings were rubbish or of no value. But God does give words alot of value. (wouldn't it be good, if I just shut up, sometimes?)

But the older I get, the less I care to analyze, and the more I just want to do it, do what God calls us to do in Jesus.

Thanks for that.

Sarah said...

Praying through is indeed very important and effective. If you have a prayer language, praying through in tongues is easier because the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray, better than we do. He can pray through you. I stumbled upon this as an old-time Christian who got the Holy Spirit baptism and a brand-new language. I asked God to bless and increase the language, and He allowed lots of situations that compelled me to pray in tongues in order to endure and progress through them.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Sarah,
Thanks for reading and commenting. I share in the experience of the prayer language of tongues, which I see as just another way for Christians to pray in the Holy Spirit. I don't necessarily pray every day that way, but when I am in prayer, especially in a communal setting, I mean when I'm moved to prayer, often I'm moved to praying that way. It is in Scripture and it is helpful. Thanks, again.