Some prayers we utter are answered in a matter of moments, if not before they are even spoken.
Some prayers are answered over the span of days, months, or years.
Some prayers go seemingly unanswered to us this side of Heaven.
I have examples from my own life that fit in all three of those categories, and I’m sure you do as well.
There is often an ongoing nature to our prayer lives, isn’t there? People and subjects that we continually bring before the Lord. For instance, as of this blog post our kids are in their 20’s, out of our home, and no longer ‘kids.’ That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped praying for them as parents. I’ve been praying for the people of Crosspoint Community Church for 22 years now, long before Sunday mornings began.
I know a wife who prayed decades for her husband to come to know and trust in Jesus, and over 30 years later, that prayer came to pass and he trusted in Christ. I also know plenty of spouses who continue to pray for their husband or wife to trust in Jesus, and have yet to see repentance and faith in their loved one.
The same type of ongoing scenario plays out in a variety of subjects.
- Parents praying for a prodigal child to return to the Lord.
- Men and women praying for new job opportunities or financial provision.
- Citizens of Heaven, who are also citizens of this nation, praying for our nation, and its people, policies, and leaders.
- Marriages praying through infertility.
- Brothers and sisters in Christ praying for fellow siblings in the persecuted church around the globe.
- Missionaries praying for open doors to share the gospel and for unreached groups to one day, no longer be unreached with the gospel.
- Sons and daughters of the Father praying for wars and conflict to cease.
- And on and on…
It is impossible that in every prayer of ours, that we cover all the subjects that there are to cover, let alone that are on our hearts and minds. For instance, on a Sunday morning in our pastoral prayer time, we don’t hit every possible subject, every time.
And yet, we’re still called to a life of prayerfulness. To bring our worship, confession, requests, and thanksgiving to a faithful Father who is near. A faithful, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise Father who is never overwhelmed by all the need in the world or all the words spoken in prayer. Aren’t you thankful for that? I’m grateful that He is neither the grandfather asleep in the corner of a room nor the irritated judge who is sick and tired of hearing our hearts. He is neither the indifferent Father, the irritate one, or the absentee one.
Jesus taught us to pray starting with ‘Our Father…’ Because it is vital that we first understand that our prayer lives flow out of our relationship as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Because we are in Christ, we can approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). We can run to the Father, knowing Jesus is our Advocate who has atoned for our sin.
So in an ongoing way, as a son or daughter we speak and talk to our Heavenly Father in prayer. And as we pray, not only is the Lord at work in others, He is also at work in us. Changing us more into His image and likeness. Deepening our trust and dependence in Him. And that change occurs, over time, as we continually approach His throne of grace.
As a pastor, let alone as a believer in Christ, I am confronted with the brokenness of lives, relationships, and the world on a consistent basis. So are you. The nature of social media and news brings an onslaught of it on a moment by moment basis. Our finite souls were never intended to try and be all-knowing or all-present in the world like our Lord. So one pitfall that we can sometimes fall into as we are confronted with brokenness in our own hearts, in those around us, and the world we live in, is instead of praying about anything, we pray about nothing. Because we don’t know where to begin or how to pray about all.the.things. Or it seems like prayer isn’t changing a thing.
Oh, but loved ones, the Lord is active in the midst of our prayers. Not only ‘out there,’ but in our own hearts and lives. And in the context of our shared community in Christ. The testimony of the Scriptures reveals to us that He is faithful and good toward His people. The gospel reveals that to us, and it also shows that in the end, His goodness and love will be forever the story of those who trust in Him.
A couple encouragements as we persist in prayer…
- Choose one focus of prayer for the day or week. If you feel overwhelmed, narrow your focus.
- Secondly, below are three passages and corresponding recent messages that would be an encouragement to you in the rhythm and practice of prayer.
Luke 11:1-13. Lord, Teach Us to Pray from January 2021
Luke 18:1-8. Persistent Prayer from July 2021
2 Corinthians 3:1-11. God of All Comfort from January 2022