Have you noticed how God frequently draws our attention to the basics; to bring new challenges to familiar areas, to pound stakes of truth more deeply into our lives. He did that recently with me regarding PRAYER. James 5.13-18.
James declared that prayer is the proper response to situations and emotions we experience daily. No matter, the answer is always PRAY! God has the answers and we know He hears us: “Pray always…” “Pray without ceasing…” However, in our demanding, need-filled, scheduled and unscheduled lives, we don’t always adhere to these instructions.
In verses 13, 14 & 16, James presents prayer as supplication—that attitude of going forward, looking ahead from the place where you are, praying prayers of hope, full of wishes, desires and dreams. Then in verses 17-18 he says we are just like Elijah whose prayers in 1 Kings 18….were supplications conveying the sense of partnership with God. Think of that as you pray this month—you and God bound together in purpose and life, working as a Team. God continually draws us into teamwork—us praying, Him doing the work. A different example of our teamwork with God is 2 Cor 4.7: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels…” Even in our earthen-ness, full of cracks, holes & crumbling, dry edges, He is the Treasure inside, teamed with us so “the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves,” resulting in changed lives. Teamwork with God.
God does it all, but He gives us a part: obey, “pray without ceasing.” As we see needs, knowing in ourselves we can do nothing, we turn to God in prayer. When we want to express our love to Him, we seek Him out to tell Him in prayer. We need this teamwork, us together with Him, looking to Him for answers and directions…looking to Him to worship. Now in this teamwork, God does not change. You and me? We change. We are always needing to pursue, seek and move toward Him. But God? He stands—our Father—arms open, waiting for us to rush, run, move toward Him. We recognize that image in the Prodigal Son—that one who has wandered far and is in the depth of degradation. But anyone who wanders off course, does their own thing, does not seek God for direction, wisdom, guidance, etc….for that instant, has become the prodigal.
We are human, a earthen vessels, yet God has chosen us. He knows our frailties. He knows in the course of life each of us will be in that role of prodigal off and on—sometimes more, sometimes barely at all. But no matter where our thoughts, attitudes, words or actions have been (or will be), we must NEVER forget that image of our Father: always and forever standing, waiting for us to turn to Him, pray and talk with Him, His arms outstretched with compassion and love, not condemnation or disappointment. Prayer and obedience pave that path back to Him—one day at a time.
Yes, He never changes. He always moves forward in His plans and purposes. As we pray, our stride and pace line up with His and we come into active teamwork with Him….doing our part by obeying, while He does His…bringing the answer, solution or change He desires.
And don’t forget about Elijah—a human just like us! He prayed. God stopped the rain for three and a half years. He prayed again. God sent the rains. Elijah’s accolade is “Elijah walked WITH God…” (I don’t think English teachers impress on us the importance of prepositions; so often they are the key word!)
Be encouraged this month as you pray. Get back to the basics—you and God working as a team. You obeying and praying, Him doing the work.
A PRAYER FOR YOU: May you not grow weary as you continue to pray. May you persist in your petitions and flow in worship. May you have assurance that God knows where you are and hears you—you are not forgotten. Be assured, He listens and longs to hear your voice, to see your face. May His Spirit strengthen you in your walk, give you answers and solutions to the plans projected throughout this month. May He grant you wisdom from above and discernment with understanding to know how to apply that wisdom. May He work in you and through you, releasing His love and power as you go through the month. May your life impact all you meet and bring Light into every circumstance you encounter. May you remember that within you a Treasure resides, desiring to work in teamwork with you to reach the lives around you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Gary & Patsy Hall
MV Chairman of the Board