Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church.
HOW IS YOUR PRAYER LIFE? That was the question asked of me by a dear friend over lunch one day many years ago. She is a PK – a preacher’s kid – raised in the Church of God by a father who was a mighty man of God. A prayer warrior. She learned early on about the power of prayer. Her question stopped me in my tracks. “What do you mean? I pray,” I said rather meekly.
I wasn’t raised in church although my parents were members of a church. We said “grace” at supper but that was about the extent of any praying we did growing up. When I gave my life to the Lord at the age of 26 I had to learn to pray. Truth be told, I’ve never been really good at it. At least not the kind of praying that involves sitting still and focusing for long periods of time. My mind tends to wander, and I often have trouble finding the right words. I am thankful that God hears my heart when my words are few and my thoughts wander off.
In our Weds. Bible study group at St. Paul the other week we read that when Peter was imprisoned, the believers were earnestly (constantly, without ceasing, fervently, assiduously) praying for him. If you haven’t read Acts chapter 12 lately it is an exciting story. As a result of their earnest prayers for him, he was miraculously freed from his imprisonment even though he was chained to two guards with two more guarding the entrance. It wasn’t that their prayers persuaded a reluctant God to act on Peter’s behalf. Instead, their prayers demonstrated that their hearts cared passionately about the things God cares about.
Earnest prayer. How often do we pray earnest prayers? Heart-felt, soul-searching, deeply felt prayers for someone or something we care about? Or are we just “ticking off the boxes” as someone suggested at Bible study? Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7) When we abide in Jesus and His words abide in us, our desire won’t be selfish or self-serving, we will care about what God cares about, our desire will be for the things that matter to God. The believers in Acts 12 witnessed a miracle because they prayed earnestly about something that mattered to God.
As I’ve thought about this idea of earnest prayer, I’ve realized I need to be more like those first believers in Acts chapter 12. I want my prayers to reflect God’s heart rather than my own selfish desires. I want to see God move in a powerful way. What about you? How is your prayer life? Perhaps we would see more answers to prayer, more miracles happening, more people trusting in Jesus, if we truly prayed in earnest for the things God cares about.
I wonder…what if I held a prayer meeting? Would anyone show up?