praying two ways


I had a little book of Christian cartoons that I kept at the church.  It had black and white pictures and one of the kids from the congregation got ahold of it and decided to use some of the pages for colouring purposes…oh well, it’ll all burn anyway.  Anyway, there was a cartoon in it that went something like this: I think it was a Sunday morning service and one guy was asked to pray for the many requests that some of the people mentioned.  And his prayer started out ‘Lord, we bring many of these requests before you this morning but in all honesty it sounds like a lot of whining and complaining to me!’  I hope that is not true of God’s people but it may be closer to true than we want it to be.

It’s not wrong to pray for the discouraged and the aching and the disabled and the disillusioned.   But one of the ways that we often pray is that God would remove ___________ (you can fill in the blank)…the cancer, the discouragement, the ache, and so on.  And we can pray for that.  I would suggest though, that there is another way that we can be praying biblically.

We can pray for strength and endurance.  We know that the one who endures til the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).  We know that endurance is a description of God’s people or should be a description of God’s people.  We may have been tempted to buy into much of the health and wealth junk…it may have slipped in and we don’t even know it.  We may say we hate it with a passion but man it rocks to be sitting behind the wheel of one sweet ride…to have a well-sculpted body with no sign of disease…to be the best dressed cat on the block.  And sometimes prosperity theology slips into our prayer lives.  Lord, remove the disease, deep six the worry, provide the job…preferably the well-paying one with six figures and six weeks of holidays.  And God may provide those kinds of things.

The account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was a prayer of example for us.  Remember what Jesus prayed?

[41] And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, [42] saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” [43] And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.  (Luke 22:41-43 ESV)

Jesus prayed for the Father to remove the pain just around the corner from Him…but that’s not the only way He prayed.  He prayed that the Father’s will would be done…He had to go to the cross…the Father’s will involved a period of physically and mentally torturous pain.  We are truly grateful for it.  I want you to notice what else was provided for Him…an angel who gave Him strength. 

It seems right, in light of this passage to pray two ways.  Lord, remove the pain and Lord, strengthen me to make it through the pain.  The question that we need to ask is which way do you and I normally pray?  The gospel empowers us to pray like the prayer from Colossians 1.

[11] May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  (Colossians 1:11 ESV)

Are you a little short on power and endurance?  I know I am.  And sometimes the Father brings relief by removing the pain, the ache, the obstacle and other times He gives us the power and endurance to survive despite the pain, the ache, and the obstacle.  So with this in mind, we can pray two ways…and may God’s glory be seen in us, regardless of how He answers.


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