We all have surface answers that we give when it comes time to produce an answer for our view on prayer.
However, deep down inside of our very heart it does not sound or look as spiritual as we pretend it to be with surface smiles and answers that we throw out on the outside.
Most of us, if we were ever comfortable enough to be brutally honest, would say something very different than the answers we normally give.
What would your answer be if asked to say something about prayer?
(No one is reading your mind and your heart can be exposed for a minute)
Would it sound something like this?
“Prayer time is really difficult for me to schedule, or even pay attention to because I am constantly distracted by other thoughts, and for the most part it doesn’t seem to work.”
“Pray if you want, and you should, but I think that there was something that I must have done to somehow ‘Jinx’ it because it feels as if it is a waste of time.”
“Pray like it all depends on God and work like it depends all on us.”
(Like this is really in the Bible somewhere. It sounds very spiritual, but if it is answered, Did God really answer that request or was it just a result of our increased effort?)
“You can pray I guess, but you better figure out what you are going to do to help this thing along.”
“At best, my prayers have a 50/50 chance of coming true.”
“My prayer life is pretty good, but I think I can do better right?”
All of these are statements that I have had Christians tell me in counseling appointments when it was OK to just detox some things inside or in some cases even statements that used to come to mind in my own journey.
These are in no means statements that would come from a broken Christian but they are a strong indicator as to how a lot of Christians feel during the times when walls raise up on the path of life.
There are times when it hurts too much to even speak and you find yourself just sobbing to God and literally groaning in pain over a trial or an allowed hurt that you don’t understand. Does God hear our prayers when there is nothing that we can even say when we come to Him?
Does He hear our hearts when we go empty to the throne without a request to make because we are too overwhelmed to even process a request?
This is where the Children of Israel found themselves in Exodus chapter two and within this account I see something powerful!
“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.” ~ Exodus 2:23-25
In Genesis chapters 17, 26, and 35 God makes a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and tells them that they will need to uphold their end of the Covenant and the God promises to uphold His end of the agreement.
I will bless you and multiply you and give you lands and flocks and make you great. Worship me and I will bless you. Follow after false idols and I will curse you was the covenant in a nutshell.
The Old Testament covenant was strong and powerful, but it also depended upon our actions. The children of Israel went through cycles of blessing, judgment, repentance and restoration.
When the burdens increased and the days got tough for the children of Israel they would repent and cry out to God and because of His covenant with them He would respond.
So when they were crying out to God from Egypt we see that “God remembered His covenant” and delivers them through Moses.
Difficult circumstances in the Old Testament and Old Covenant times produced groaning that in turn reminded God of His covenant.
Thankfully we do not live in the Old Testament nor do we live under the Old Covenant. Because man could not ever keep up his end of the agreement, God formed a New Covenant and He swore it upon His own name.
Jeremiah prophesied that one day God would make a New Covenant and that it would no longer be based upon us but that it would be based entirely upon God.
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” ~ Jeremiah 31:31
One of the least taught books of the Bible is the powerful book of Hebrews, and judging by the way that the “religion train” is furiously whipping down the tracks I can see why. Hebrews hits Religion smack between the eyes!
In the eighth chapter, God’s new covenant (The one we live under) is explained in more detail, and like any other contract… If you are mentioned in it, wouldn’t you at least like to know what it says?
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (Jeremiah’s prophecy remember?) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” ~ Hebrews 8:7-13
Well if it is not dependent upon my works and God remembers my sins no more, how is this covenant sealed? The same way as any other covenant that is made between two parties. In blood. Whose blood? Jesus blood!
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” ~Hebrews 12:24
What does all this mean?
Under the Old Covenant, difficult circumstances and trials caused groaning which caused God to remember His covenant.
Under the New Covenant on this side of the cross, difficult circumstances and trials cause groaning which prompt us to remember God’s role in His covenant with us.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” ~Romans 8:26-27
I love this passage that Paul throws out here. He is telling us what our times of “Grownings” do for the Christian living on this side of the cross under the new covenant.
He then goes on to tell us what we are prompted to remember in our trials.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28
Go on and read the rest of the chapter that follows this of all the things that we remember about God and His covenant to us. It ends with a question to challenge us to examine God’s love for us and try to find a way that it can be severed. The new covenant based upon Him and His name is unbreakable!
The whole purpose of “The Man and The Wall” is to take as many opportunities as the Lord will allow and as many ways as possible to remind you during your times of allowed hurt and pain the things that Paul wished the Christians in Ephesus would remember.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” ~Ephesians 3:16-19
God’s love for you is unmatched. He is for you, and in your darkest day when your Spirit can only groan to Him, please understand what your prayer truly is:
"The object of prayer is NOT the answer. The object of prayer is God Himself."
Prayer is simply put, the awareness of God’s constant presence in our lives.
This is a huge step of faith because “First Response” prayer is choosing Him over every other option that seems to make sense.
Climbing with you,