You’re in my prayers.
Really? Or are you just saying that? For most of us, we say it with all sorts of care and compassion. But not many of us actually pray what we say – at least, not overtly or intentionally. Many of those friendly prayers we move into the Miscellaneous File in the basement storeroom of our minds, trusting the Holy Spirit to find His way down there and look them up.
What would happen if we actually, genuinely, purposefully and meaningfully… pray? Before we can get to that, though, we need to understand who’s praying to Whom, with what and for what. It sounds more complicated than it really is.
You are invited to pray because the God who created you and redeemed you knows how much you NEED to pray. You need Someone to talk to, Someone who will actually listen, Someone who loves you more than life itself. So you tell Him what’s going on, even though He already knows. You tell Him how much you’re hurting, even though He already knows. You tell Him why you need Him to do His God thing for someone close to you, even though He already knows.
He wants to hear what YOU know. Not just what you think or what you wish or what you guess or even what you believe. Do you know what you’re asking? Do you know Who you’re talking to?
You don’t want to offend Him or waste His time, so you trivialize your prayers with shiny beads and shallow flattery, saying things like, “I just want to thank you and I just want to praise you and I just want you to know…” Putting the “just” in there insults the Savior who became sin for you so that you might become righteous for Him, as though your life and your soul and your petitions and intercessions are too cheap and meaningless to address straight up. Jesus demands it of our prayers: “Do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Get to the point. Get to the ask. Prayer isn’t for cowards nor con men, so pray it like you mean it.
The only reason you and I even have a prayer is because God already answered it ahead of time. God sent His Son into the world to save the world, to redeem the world, to heal the world, to change the world, to love the world. You have a saving prayer? Jesus. You have a redeeming prayer? Jesus. You have a healing prayer? Jesus. You have a changing prayer? Jesus. He hears every single one of your prayers – even the crappy ones – and He answers. In the moment, in the urgency of our need, His answer seems to be one of three: yes, no, and wait. (He really likes that last one.)
But in the eternal scope of our lives, from a God’s-eye view, His answer will be bringing us back to Jesus. To His cross and His empty tomb. To His mercy and His grace. To His promise of power, presence and peace. It’s just a matter of His opening our eyes, our minds, our hearts to know where Jesus fits into our lives, and where we fit into His.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. You will have the right answer, even if it’s not your desired one. Instead of seeing the wind and the waves that blow you over and drag you under, you will see the Hand that rescues and hear the Voice that calms.
So you best pray like you mean it. Because He does.
When you pray in His name, you’re acknowledging Jesus as Lord of your life, no matter where your life is at or where it’s headed. When you pray His will be done, you are surrendering your best-laid plans and sincere intentions to the Savior who will never let you out of His sight nor out of His hands. When you pray for His Kingdom, His power and His glory, you are setting aside your clocks and calendars to affirm that His eternity is worth far more than your temporality.
Pray like you mean it.
This past month we cut our vacation short because Deb’s dad was driving himself to Urgent Care with shortness of breath. When we got there a couple hours later, we just missed him because they’d taken him to the CT Room.
The nurse said rather pointedly, “He’s had a stroke.” Literally seconds later, an announcement came over the intercom: “Emergency response team to the CT Room! Emergency response team to the CT Room!”
In that moment, we had nothing. Nothing we could do. Nothing we could say. Stunned silence. And the only prayer I could muster was, “Not tonight, Lord. Not tonight.” A professional wordsmith, and that’s all I had. And I meant it.
But it’s not the words. It’s not the urgency nor the sincerity. It’s not my sacred office nor the measure of my faith.
It is Who is on the other end of that prayer. He’s said yes before. He’s said no a bunch. And I’m well acquainted with waiting on the Lord. But I came back to Him anyway.
A few weeks later, my father-in-law is recovering nicely, and making fun of his son-in-law. Thank you, Jesus.
So pray for yourself. Pray for your parents and your kids. Pray for your church and your country. Pray for the enemies you know and the friends you don’t. Pray without ceasing, and then pray it again. Pray like you mean it.
I will most definitely be praying with you, and for you. And I mean it.
- Pastor Steve Kline
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Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.