Jump Start # 3450
Luke 18:9 “And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.”
Luke 18 is a chapter about prayer. It begins with our Lord “telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” And, what follows are two immediate parables about prayer.
Prayer is an interesting topic. As we head towards the holiday of being thankful, prayer is on our minds. Just about everyone can pray. Some need a little teaching to understand that we pray to God and not to Mary or a dead saint. But even our little ones can pray. They might pray for kitty cats and dandelions in the yard, but they get the idea. Among disciples, one of the most common dissatisfaction is our prayer life. We don’t pray enough and we don’t pray deep enough. Most feel that way. Most recognize that they could do better and many want to do better.
Author Philip Yancey wrote this in his book about prayer: “I wonder what I would do if seated at a banquet next to say, Albert Einstein, or Mozart. Would I chitchat? Would I make a fool of myself? In prayer I am approaching the Creator of all that is. Someone who makes me feel immeasurably small. How can I do anything but fall silent in such presence? More, how can I believe that whatever I say matters to God?”
I understand what Yancey is saying. I have attended baseball games with a former National League all-star player. I never played college baseball. I think I understand the game until he was sitting next to me. I feel this way when I attend the orchestra with my wife. She studied music in college and has a great knowledge of classical music. I’m trying to figure out why they don’t wear colorful socks.
There is war in Israel. There is a war in Ukraine. There is a lot of moving and shaking taking place on the global level. There are governors, mayors and every important people who are making decisions that will impact the lives of many, many people. Why should what I say even matter to God? What I think doesn’t matter to the governor. What I think doesn’t matter to the boss. And, for many, what I think doesn’t even matter at home. No one listens. No one cares. I’m nobody. So, why should God even pay attention to anything I have to say? Great question. Many feel that way, but hate to admit it.
And, that’s a starting point for us. For the next several Jump Starts, we want to open the lid on the box of prayer. I hope these thoughts help you and I hope they open our eyes to the wonderful and powerful blessing of prayer. One of the hymns is called, “Sweet hour of prayer.” And, that’s the spirit that we need to have. It’s not the tedious hour of prayer. It’s not the enduring pain of prayer. It’s not boring hour of prayer. It’s sweet, the sweet hour of prayer.
Let’s begin with a few fundamentals:
First, God wants us to pray. That’s the direction we must understand. Heaven wants to hear from you. It’s not that we are trying to grab a minute from a busy God and we are waiting patiently for Him to give us some time. It’s not that way. It is God who is asking us to pray to Him. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “But you, when you pray…” God expects you to pray. God is wanting you to pray. God is telling us to pray.
You are not bothering God when you pray.
Second, God cares. In the Yancey quote above, I don’t know if Einstein would care about what I had to say. I doubt, from what I’ve read about Mozart, that he would even look my way, if I was talking to him. God is not like that. Peter tells us to cast all of our anxiety upon Him because He cares. That’s why we pray. God cares.
He cares when you are discouraged. He cares when you are beat down. He cares when you feel like you can’t go on. He cares when stress is greater than you can handle. He cares when you cry. He cares when you open the door to temptation. God cares.
Third, God is moved by our prayers. James says the prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. It accomplishes much not because it makes us feel better to talk about things. It accomplishes much not because we are getting things off of our chest. It accomplishes much because we have invited the God of Heaven into our lives. God can do what no one else can. God can open doors that are closed. When everyone else says, ‘no way,’ God has a way.
Prayer is not talking to the air. Prayer is not just hearing my self. Prayer is talking to the God of Heaven and Earth who loves you and can do things. The Ephesians were told, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus”.
At all times, Jesus says, we ought to pray and not lose heart. Sweet hour of prayer.