Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I sometimes struggle, well more than sometimes, close to frequently with the pray without ceasing verse. Honesty has me reveal that I wrestle with the rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances verses too. But it is the pray without ceasing verse that I’m pondering.
Here’s the deal. I have prayed for some things for decades, literally decades. Sometimes I pray gently; sometimes I pray with fists clenched; sometimes I tearfully pray in fear and awe; sometimes I pray without much hope. Some of those prayers have been answered. Sometimes I didn’t recognize the answer. There are times the answer was no and eventually, I thanked God for that no.
I’d be tempted to forego prayer. It seems like such an unfathomable mystery at times. Why would an awesome, all powerful, all knowing, timeless God, the Alpha and Omega, the everything, be interested in hearing from me, a speck in eternity? But I am hung up on Jesus, on the Gospel, on a belief that at times is slightly shaky but always there.
And there are those times of worship when I would fall prostrate but know I would not get up easily at my advanced age and uncooperative body. Jesus loves me, that I know and He surely does not want me stuck on the floor, waiting for the rescue squad to arrive or for Ken, my spouse, to further injure his touchy back, trying to raise me off the floor. And, Molly, our small Boston Terrier would think I was on the floor to play, not to pray.
So I simply sing off key, hands raised, tears dampening my age-spotted cheeks. Thus, I know I believe in God and I believe God. Plus the Bible I love is full of admonishments and encouragements to pray.
Here’s the amazing truth. Recently, two different times I tearfully begged God to have the phone ring with updates from two different loved ones about two different situations. And the cell dinged with text answers while the prayers were barely spoken. Both times I looked at the messages, saw the answer to prayers, and I was spooked and grateful, humbled and awed. Those are not the only clear, quick answers to prayers, or even answers that took some time to come. If I were to have kept a log of prayer requests and answers, I’d have filled a stack of journals over the years.
And I try not to question why some prayers are answered clearly and without much delay while others are answered less clearly and after a long wait. I try not to whine over the unanswered prayers but God knows my whining in silence, so I might as well whine in my blog. But like Habakkuk, I am a believer, no matter what. And I’ll keep on praying, even though I am bewildered, boggled and befuddled some of the time, maybe most. Want to keep it honest before my God.
Habakkuk 3: 17-18 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation