Has It Come to This?
Praying for Revival in Our Land.
Someone has said that prayer is the most talked about and least practiced activity of the Church. Why do we have such a hard time with it? It is usually a last resort activity. We use it only when all else has failed. It is not uncommon to have someone announce with urgency, “we need to pray” and we all wonder: “Has it come to this?
The societal diagnosticians remind us often that we are a society full of angst, anxiety, frustration, anger, and panic. We spend billions of dollars and hours of time trying to alleviate these. Sometimes, trying to manage our anxiety becomes our full-time job. Our search for a modicum of personal peace defines our very existence. God gave us his solution through a man who had multiple obstacles in his life and every reason to fret. The apostle Paul offers:
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV.)
Have We Neglected Prayer?
Maybe our angst is not a sign of the troubled times we are in, but a sign of our neglect of prayer.
Jared Wilson in his book, The Gospel-Driven Church, says “prayer is expressed helplessness. When we are not engaged in prayer, it is because we feel like ‘we got this.’ The extent to which you are not engaged in prayer is the extent to which you are relying on your own strength.” I think he is right and it exposes my own presumption.
But I think there is more going on as well. I’m not sure we know how prayer fits into our purpose and how it works in our relationship with God.
As preposterous as it sounds, we are God’s partners in God’s earthly work. He has chosen to work through humans to accomplish his purpose on earth. Adam and Eve were assigned to such a task for the whole race. This gives us a clue to understanding why we are incurable “fixers.” We are attracted to problems and projects that need to be developed, fixed, or eliminated. However, we tend to forget that we are to do it as partners with God rather than as independent agents. We even despise those who appear to be always praying and never using their own minds to think and hands to work. We try to not to bother God with stuff we can handle — and sadly, we think we can handle it all.
We Want Control
We don’t like desperation, so we run from it. We enjoy being in control. But, we should not be surprised that God confronts us with problems too big for us. He does not want us living boring lives. We were designed and are redeemed to participate in bringing the supernatural kingdom of God to expression on earth. We are not made to be satisfied with accomplishing only what humans can do alone. We are agents of the heavenly realm. We crave supernaturality (new word? Why not?).
The life that we share in our relationship with God through faith in Jesus is energized by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We expect to confront issues that require intervention from the supernatural. This perspective anticipates desperation. We are called to do that which can only be done in partnership with God. Our part always starts with prayer. It is our first response, not our last resort.
As we take our posts as citizens of both the kingdom of God and the land in which we live, we discover that there are issues that we just can’t control. For instance, we can’t change people by our own strength. But we are not limited to our own strength. If we are willing to partner with God we can see people change as he desires.
It is our time to get involved. There are multiple opportunities for divine intervention. We have a part. Yes. It has come to this.