“. . . men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
Prayer is essential. Every redemptive journey begins with prayer. “For there is no difference,” wrote the great apostle Paul, “between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12-13). God extends forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9). Once saved, a person’s healthy, productive, Christian walk depends upon prayer also. God certainly knows the things we have need of before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). We might ask what the need for prayer is. The answer is that we pray so that we can actually receive those things we have need of! “Ye have not, because ye ask not” declared James, the half brother to the Lord Jesus (James 4:2). If we find ourselves lacking wisdom, we ought to pray. James insists that if we ask God for wisdom He will give it to us liberally (James 1:5). I regularly pray before reading the Bible, and ask God to show me great things that I might share with others. The Good Father has answered this prayer consistently over the years, and this through the ministry of the Blessed Holy Spirit. This is in full accordance with Paul’s declaration that “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). This certainly includes the Bible! If we would like to get better at resisting Satan’s temptations and the lures of the world, then we ought to pray fervently about these things also. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” says the Lord’s model prayer for His people (Matthew 6:13). In the Garden before His arrest, the Lord instructed His disciples, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Our strength in the face of temptation is insufficient. We need God’s help, moment by moment. The instant we lapse into a felt autonomy and self-sufficiency we are disasters waiting to happen. I often think about the entrance of sin into the world at the dawn of human history. There in the Garden of Eden, Satan approached the woman and tempted her to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-5). If only she had called out to the LORD in that instant. If only she had at least reached out to Adam for a second witness to what God had said. Two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:8-9), and they might have encouraged one another to cry out to God and ask that He get involved. Surely He would have answered (Psalm 50:15; 91:15). I think about the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas that became so sharp that the two friends parted company (Acts 15:39). How might this episode have gone if these godly men had paused to pray with, and for, one another? May these meditations encourage us to pray continually and about all things, with believing, grateful hearts (Philippians 4:6).