Secrets of Prayer

In this new and modern age where people apparently have no morals and no sense of shame; in a world where there are no less than a dozen mediums offering one the opportunity to post anything and everything they could ever want for ‘friends’ and followers to see; there is still one thing that does not seem to make the rounds much on the internet postings: what one is praying for.

Oh sure, you will quite often see prayer requests for the friend whose house burned down, or for the elderly man who will soon breathe his last, or that the job interview will go well; but it is rare to see the truly heart wrenching matters that occupy one’s prayer life.

It is easy to ask others to pray for public matters, things they already know about.  But when it comes to those private matters of the heart; well, sometimes it is hard enough putting your own words to those prayers, let alone to ask others to pray for you.

For perhaps the most personal, the most probing question that you can ask a person is: what are you praying for these days?

And after the half-joking comment about praying for a million dollars; and the Ms. America answer of world peace; the question becomes a little bit harder to answer.  Because to reveal what you are praying for, is to reveal not only your greatest hopes and dreams, but also your deepest fears.  To reveal what you are praying for is to reveal what sins you are struggling with; what issues keep you up at night.

These issues are hardly known to anyone; and if they were we would only feel all the more embarrassment.  What would your friends think if you asked them to pray for you as you struggle with your relationships?  What would those followers think if you asked them to pray for you as you struggle with forgiveness?  What would the other people in church say if you asked them to pray for you as you stumble in the faith?

It is here, in these deepest and darkest hours of the night, when all of the other prayers have been said that we turn to those other things we pray for: not the sick family dog, or the upcoming vacation; but for those monsters in our prayer closet, those sins that we dare not mention, those concerns that are known only to God.

It is at this time that one is truly led to believe in the power of prayer.  You believe in it when you ask other to pray for you or for those around you; but it is only in the dark recesses of your prayer life that you truly place your trust in God, for the things you mention here in the darkness, are the things that you would never mention to another.

And you are not alone.

It is interesting to look at Jesus as He approaches Holy Week.  Throughout His ministry and especially in the days leading up to Good Friday, He is staunch in His declarations that the Son of Man will be crucified by sinful men and on the third day rise again; and nowhere is Jesus more defiant then when He says that the temple will be destroyed only to rise again.

And yet despite this defiance, where do we find Jesus on Maundy Thursday?  In the Garden of Gethsemane, praying, alone.  When He leaves the upper room, the eleven are with Him; in the Garden He takes Peter, James and John with Him, and then He even leaves them behind as He goes farther still to pray.

And He prays that if possible the cup that is before Him might be removed.  What just a few days earlier He was defiantly calling for, we see hear that He struggles with what is about to come.  He struggles with it so much, that He even sweats tears of blood.

And in His private hour of struggle and darkness and despair, He confesses it to no one else, but God the Father; who responds by sending an angel to comfort Him.

That was Jesus personal prayer life, the one He revealed to no one else.  What is yours?  Whatever it may be, however deeply you may struggle with it, you can share it with God the Father in heaven.  God will not tell others, and He will help you in His own all-knowing way.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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