March 17, 2022
After seven decades of living, your successes and failures become very clear. It occurs to me this morning that my greatest failure is failure in prayer. I’m grateful for all the Lord has taught me about communion with Him through the Word and prayer and for the privilege of learning how to pray without ceasing, but there could have been so much more.
THE NEEDFUL BREAKING
It takes years for most of us to see the foolishness of our pride; to be broken of our headstrong vanity. The great indicator of our hubris is prayerlessness, for we believe we can handle life, raise children, lead and manage, make decisions by ourselves. Years of breaking finally convince us of our foolishness. Only then do we begin to see the inestimable value of prayer. Some get there quicker than others, but I suppose there’s no shortcut to this humbling.
And the world distracts us. We suffer from Prayer-Attention-Deficit-Disorder, lured by every sparkling trinket and loud noise. We dash here and there instead of running and resting in the one place that would give us all we need. All we long for. All we were made for.
THE INSURMOUNTABLE VALUE
Word-driven prayer (for the Word and prayer cannot be separated) connect us to the singular Source of life itself. Prayer allows us to know the intimacy of God’s affections, the realities of heaven and earth, the peace that passes understanding, the joy that supersedes the heaviness and confusion of this life.
If we had prayed more, we would have seen the pettiness of living for others approval, for our souls would have been at rest knowing we were perfectly accepted in the Beloved. Our hearts would have been released from doubts because we would daily have seen the omnipotence of God. Our fears would have been relieved as we heard the overwhelming promises of our loving Father to His children. “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
We discover who we are and whose we are in the Throne room before the One who made us. Years of sideways energy could be avoided if we would simply read the Word of God and pray. Hours of fruitless wandering could be prevented. Days of dark depression could be lifted. In prayer, we could find clarity in the unfiltered atmosphere of God Himself.
Prayer puts us on mission. It is our battlefield tool. Our Sovereign has ordained that there are many things He will not do if we do not learn to pray. “You have not because you ask not.” Advances that could have been made in His redemptive plan for the eternal life of men and women, boys and girls are lost if we miss prayer.
We cannot retrieve the years of lost effectiveness, but we can let that understanding drive us to greater fervency in intercession for the remainder of our days. Perhaps our first seasons of life are preparing us for our greatest work … to see history changed around us through unceasing prayer.
THE GREATEST LOSS
These regrets are heightened when we realize Who we have ignored. We have not been invited to an audience with a mere mortal, but with God Himself. Our Elder Brother is seated at His right hand only after the excruciating trek to earth to purchase us and introduce us into this grace in which we now stand. We have peace facing God because of His work. And the precious Holy Spirit has been entrusted into our very spirits so that we may have instant, constant access to the Father. Think of the hours, days, years of time we have ignored the Father, Son, and Spirit when we could have been talking to them without ceasing!
To fail in prayer is to miss knowing God, as a friend comes to know a friend. Paul said he would have given up everything for the surpassing value of simply knowing God. Think of all we could understand of Him if we would make the daily, hourly choice to linger in His presence!
Our great joy and endless comfort, though, is knowing what lies ahead. As we learn to pray more and pray better, we are being prepared to enter an eternity of unbroken fellowship with the Father. We will no longer see through a darkened glass, but face-to-face! We will know Him as He knows us. Our selfishness will be abolished, our sin gone, our values righted, and we will talk to Him without ceasing.
If it takes a lifetime to realize our need it will be worth it for an eternity of intimate dependence upon the One who knows us best and loves us most. But for the remainder of my days on this earth I make one simply request: Lord, teach me to pray!
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