Tuesday is our church-wide day to pray for our missionaries. Have you prayed for them? What have you prayed for them? Which missionaries have you prayed for? Do these questions bother you? Does your prayerlessness convict you? Does it make you feel guilty? Are you tired of always feeling guilty because you never pray like you ought to pray?
What if, to relieve your guilt, I said, “Now c’mon. Be easy on yourself. Be sensible. It’s totally unrealistic considering everything you have to do in a day to spend time in prayer. Just let me do your praying for you. Really, I’ll take care of it. The Scriptures says that we as pastors are supposed to give ourselves to a devout prayer life, one that continually prays. You, on the other hand, a normal layman, don’t have time for prayer. And I really want you to be happy and free from the guilt that the church has heaped on people over the centuries for their prayerlessness. Just let go and let me pray for you. Enjoy your life, and I’ll do the heavy lifting of ceaseless prayer.”
The Scriptures do teach that we who are called to pastoral ministry should prioritize prayer in ways that other people don’t. That’s true. And it’s true that people are very busy with the routine of life. Eating, Drinking. Sleeping. Playing. Raising families. Watching the Broncos. For all the time saving devices modern technology affords, it seems like we are more strapped for time than ever. We hire most other menial tasks out. Maybe we should just hire our prayer lives out too?
The Scriptures also teach, however, that normal Christian living for normal Christians, elders or not, vocation or laymen, is to give ourselves to unceasing prayer. There is no spiritual power without it. There is no real joy without it. There is no victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil without it. There’s no hope without prayer.
The problem then isn’t that we are too busy to pray; the problem is that we are too satisfied to pray. Satisfied with failure. Satisfied with mediocrity. Satisfied with apathy. Satisfied with coasting or lollygagging or quitting.
May I direct your attention to Christ Jesus the Lord? To those satisfied with lesser joys, he offers joy unspeakable and full of glory so that dissatisfaction might compel you to a prayerful begging for more. To those satisfied with mediocrity, he offers the most abundant life possible so that you would prayerfully seek such abundance with parched lips longing for a satisfaction you’ve yet to taste. To those who are satisfied with apathy, he offers you a love that enflames each thought, word, and action for a higher purpose than you can even imagine. To those who are satisfied with quitting, he calls you to persistent prayer that you might rise up and find that you are more than a conqueror through him who loves you.
Prayer is the natural response of somebody who has their eyes fixed on Jesus. Prayer is the natural response of somebody who realizes their helpless estate without Jesus. Prayer is the natural response of somebody who longs for what only Jesus can give.
You don’t want me or anybody else doing your praying for you unless you want somebody else to taste your joy for you. God calls his people to pray because he longs for his people to experience the best that he has for us. So feel free to watch another episode or another quarter or another song or another news report. Or, spend some time in prayer and find yourself laying hold of God’s purposes in ways you never have.
And in the meantime, pray for your missionaries. The Gibbs, Brauns, Coxes, Johnstons, Nunez, Millers, Rices, and Ross Olson – all of them would love your prayerful encouragement in their pursuit of Christ. They need your help; they need your prayers. And quite honestly, so do you!