First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
It is an all too familiar scenario: a friend describes a most troubling situation that they are dealing with, whether it be health, or unruly children, or an rough patch in their marriage, or even just complications at work. You listen with a sympathetic ear, you do your best to encourage your friend, and your parting words are: I’ll pray for you. And yet, when you get home, and say your prayers, you are at a loss for words.
What happened? They shared more than enough with you to warrant your prayers; there is no lack of detail, and yet you sit there in silence, wondering what to say.
And it is not just when it involves the prayers of others, you examine your own life, and you find that here too, you are at a loss for words when it comes to prayer. You never have this problem when on the phone with a friend, or in the car with a close relative; why is it then, that when we go to the Lord in prayer, we are suddenly at a loss for words?
Is it because we do not know the Scriptures?
Shockingly, this does indeed come into play. When we do not know the Scriptures, we doubt the promises of God that He will hear our prayers. When we do not know the Scriptures, we are left to treat God as a genie, who grants wishes to those who rub the lamp, reciting our prayers as mere hopeful wishes of things we would like to happen, as opposed to things we know with full and certain confidence that God can and will answer.
Daily reading of the Bible, in daily devotions and personal study, not to mention in worship, has the result of not just strengthening our faith in God, but it also spills into other areas of our life as well. To know the Scriptures, and not just being able to recite verses from memory, but to know the story, to know the actions of God in the lives of His people throughout history, is to know that God has done these things not just for a people long ago, but to know that God can and will do these things in your life as well.
What better way to pray for the healing of a dread disease, than to pray with the confidence that Jesus healed the sick and the dying throughout His earthly ministry? What better way to pray for a troubled marriage, than to do so with the knowledge that not only has God instituted marriage for His purposes, but also that He was with Hosea during his own troubled marriage. What better way to pray for those who struggle at work, than to pray with the confidence that the Lord blessed the labors of the fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. What better way to pray that the Lord would watch over us throughout our earthly days, than to pray with the full knowledge that God has not just provided you with daily bread, but that He has also provided you with a place in His kingdom forever.
We often assume that the more knowledge we have about a situation the better and more earnest our prayers will be, and while it is difficult to pray trusting that the Lord knows the reason better than we, what joy it is that the Scriptures assure us that God knows all things, and that our prayers for strangers, are known and heard by our Father and their Father in heaven.
Now do not get me wrong; there is no magic formula in the Scriptures that will guarantee your prayers a higher success rate. What I am saying, is that when we read the Scriptures, one of the many blessings that we receive is the knowledge and confidence, that our prayers are heard, and answered, by our Father in heaven.
The next time you sit down to pray and are at a loss for words, read the Scriptures. Read those passages where Jesus healed the sick, or raised the dead. Read the Psalms where God’s people cry out in times of joy and frustration. Read how God heard the cries of His people of old, and now that He hears your cries today as well.