In the "Why Pray Series Part 1 and 2", we discovered that prayer not only brings
us closer to God, but also permits us to be lifted beyond our mere daily
circumstances and experience God's wisdom even in our darkest circumstances!
There is one more vital reason to pray: Prayer brings us strength!
Let's take a look at Jesus: When facing His biggest trial of all, His horrible death through the means of crucifixion, Jesus was sweating blood-filled tears, begging for God to remove the burden from His shoulders: "He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death…" (Heb 5:7 NIV)
Now, it may seem that Jesus' request went unanswered. This fact can bring great comfort to those of us who are suffering in various situations, who wonder why our prayers seemed to remain unanswered. We can know beyond a doubt that Jesus identifies with us, more intimately than anyone else, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb. 2:18 NIV) "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44 NIV) He was drained of energy, fragile beyond means. One can wonder how He would be able to face His upcoming betrayal and crucifixion.
When He arose from prayer however, all his fear seemed to have been disappeared. Jesus faced the mob unintimidated, composed, in control. In fact, when facing Pilate, He calmly declared: "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19:11 NIV) The truth is, Jesus asked for the cup to be removed; instead God used His prayer to empower Him with the strength He needed to go through with the plan of redemption.
I vividly remember the last time I saw my dad alive. I had flown in to Belgium with my wife and our infant son to spend Christmas with my parents. My dad had been battling a brain tumor for more than two years. Surgeons had been unsuccessful in removing all of it, and it was clear the end wasn't far away.
During our stay that Christmas, my dad spent most of his time sleeping. This was primarily due to his heavy medication. But whenever his eyes fluttered open to the sight of my first-born son, his pain-riddled face would relax into a beautiful smile. Oh how he loved his grandson!
He often tried to communicate with us, but we could barely understand him. However, the idea he was trying to communicate was clear: He loved us! I will always hold on to this precious memory.
Throughout the entire bittersweet visit, I cried my heart out in prayer. I felt, deep down, that this would be the last time I would see my dad alive in this life time. Moments before having to leave for the ferry dock, I dreadfully approached his chair. He opened his eyes, and I shared with him the dreaded words: "Dad, it's time for us to leave!" His eyes filled with tears, then he began looking around, desperately searching for something. I knew what it was, and I quickly retrieved my son. After a few moments with the baby, my dad turned to me, and in a sad monotone, he said, clearly, "I will never see you again!"
My heart was broken. I knew in my heart that he was right! What could I say? I looked him directly in the eye and said: "I love you dad!" We hugged for a long time, and then we left.
Only after I had left my parents' apartment did I realize that I had faced this situation with a boldness that didn't come from me. Not once had I choked on my emotions like I usual do. God had given me the strength to confront these sad circumstances with peace and strength. And not only that! I had been able to understand every word my dad had conveyed to me on our last farewell! I fell on my knees and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to the One who made all the difference in my life. I know that one day I will see my dad again, on the shores of eternity! I am looking forward to this homecoming!
Friends, we no longer have to worry about not having the needed strength to confront unpleasant circumstances. God will be our strength if we rely on Him! "If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:11 NIV); "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13 NIV)
Prayer brings strength! Remember what Jesus told us? "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV)
In summary then, why do we pray? We pray because Jesus did. We pray because it allows heaven and earth to be brought together, the divine with the mortal, a relationship made for eternity. We pray because prayer is our access to Heavenly wisdom and Godly strength!
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