January 19

“Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Luke 18:1

“Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the prayer of faith. To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer is so much nearer. From first to last, the lessons and examples of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again, and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer that will prevail. . . .The motto of David Livingstone was in these words, ‘I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose.’ By unfaltering persistence and faith in God he conquered.” (Streams in the Desert)

If not careful, prayer becomes one of the most self-centered parts of my day. I address Father, but my attention turns inward as I seek divine assistance for what matters most to me at the moment. Although Jesus promises each of us his pardon, presence, and provision, I waste precious time rehearsing past failure and missed opportunity, somehow relishing the pain dragged up by a litany of sin. Confession is good for the soul, self-pity not so much. When I muster the courage to get over myself and get on to intercession, I discover that prayer changes me the way I wanted in the first place. My mind and heart take on that of the Father, and this world loses its grip as I plead for salvation, deliverance and restoration in others. The prayer closet was never intended to be a confessional; it is a battle station.

Merciful Lord,
You not only hold all things together; You are Everything. All of life finds its meaning and purpose in You. You alone define joy; hope is the inevitable consequence of abiding in You. Unveil the mystery of union with Christ in quiet moments of reflection and raucous action benefitting the hurting and at risk in my sphere of influence. Create in me not only a clean heart, but a thirsty one that will not be satisfied with alluring substitutes. I do not seek to be successful but to remain faithful. I will not fall prey to the temptation of expedience; my mind finds peace in knowing You and learning to detect You in the commonplace. Transform routine into reverence and the familiar into worship. And should You so choose, find rest in me as I rest resolutely in You.

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