The Prayer Mandate, Part 2
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
I am watching friends who rush to prayer because they have no other recourse. As they let me come along on their painful journey, I am growing spiritually. Prayer takes them to the Cross where they discover they are not alone, no matter how isolating their circumstances. There is One present who knows the cries of their soul and longs to reveal Himself in their darkness. They tell me how agonizing prayer opens their hearts and minds to wait on the Lord, to trust Him with their loved ones and to listen as He directs them in practical ways. They begin to recognize that life is a marathon, not a sprint. The waiting room is easier to bear when through agonizing prayer they surrender to God’s sovereignty. Their burden changes from trying to manipulate their loved one, into listening to them and watching for signs that the Lord is changing their loved one’s heart. Often the one praying is the one transformed by a new recognition of their own sin, followed by repentance and life giving forgiveness.
I am learning by watching my friends in the darkness that life giving freedom comes when our goal is not to set straight another person, but rather to reflect Jesus in such a way that they long to know Him. I watch them pray and soak in Scripture, looking for specific ways they have contributed to the hard places. God humbles me when they share how God wants to transform their self-righteousness into a sweet fragrance of Jesus that entices others to long for Him as well. As I agonize in prayer with them, I am blessed to see their treasures in the darkness become mine.
“Pray without ceasing.” Is it time to exercise this mandate in your own life? Remember, Jesus needed to pray. How about us?
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Every time you are tempted to respond, “Well, all I can do is pray” to a friend’s
description of pain in her life, stop, and ask if you can pray with her on the spot. When burdens overwhelm you, remember God’s call to pray without ceasing. Run to Jesus with lamenting and pleading for His comfort and wisdom.
Review your prayer journal and note where you followed through on offering practical encouragement to a friend. Also note how the Lord is shifting your heart from worry to watching.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the Chronic Illness in Young Adults audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes with young adulthood, there is a whole population that struggles to reconcile their physical limitations with everyday life. Three young adults share their own stories of dealing with delayed life plans, limited social lives, and the search for friends who “get” their physical disabilities. Tim, Stephanie and Stephen give us a glimpse into the ongoing battles to find purpose and joy as they live each day with chronic illnesses. Their stories will encourage other young adults and equip their friends and family to better understand their daily struggles.