Keep Praying

My morning “wake up” devotional verse this morning was:

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
2 Peter 3:8‭-‬9 NLT

And the Life Application Study Bible had these notes to consider on this verse:

God may have seemed slow to these believers as they faced persecution every day and longed to be delivered. But God is not slow; he just is not on our timetable. Jesus is waiting so that more sinners will repent and turn to him. We must not sit and wait for Christ to return, but we should live with the realization that time is short and that we have important work to do. Be ready to meet Christ any time, even today; yet plan your course of service as though he may not return for many years.

Then, Mia came down to join us for our morning family devotional, and the Sticky Situations devotional for Kids and Families had this to share:

And had us reading and considering this page from Luke:

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Luke 18:1‭-‬8 NLT

I immediately saw patient endurance and faith as the 10,000ft view (the revelation of truth) that I need to be mindful of, and consistency in my own prayer life as the primary target (the area of application) where I can repent and grow.

I can at times find myself studying and growing in knowledge and familiarity with the scriptures themselves, but also finding the fervency of my prayer life waning. When I’ve prayed time and time again around and over an issue or circumstance looking for a solution, I sometimes forget that praying and praising through the trial is the picture of faith.

I also sometimes get hung up on the issues that are closest to me, that are affecting me daily, that are uncomfortable for me — and I forget that these are my “opportunities to suffer gracefully to the glory of God” — and that even these aren’t persecution, but are usually just consequences of my own poorly chosen decisions.

I am realizing that many times I have been missing opportunities to pray for the very real needs of others (that are seemingly far more challenging and desperate than my want). I not only overlook my own blessed life, but pick apart what isn’t “perfect” and “comfortable” by my own standards of want, while others are facing very real need. When there are those around me truly suffering every day, why do I find myself forgetting them too often in my prayers and instead grumbling to God about every little thing that isn’t comfortable or easy for me in the moment?

It’s humbling to see how quickly I can fall into a selfish, grumbling mindset.

It’s humbling to see how easily I lose faith in trusting that God has a plan, a purpose, and perfect timing.

So now, instead of continuing to “write and preach” this morning — I’m confessing that I’m just a needy student and disciple of the Word like you, friend. I don’t have it all nailed down. I’m not getting it all right. It seems to me like I stumble more than I walk. I look at this perfect example of Christ in the written Word, and I find myself not just a step or two short of ther glory of God, but far on the other end of the spectrum. If measuring the evidence of our own godliness along a chart the length of a marathon, I wonder if we have even progressed the width of a single hair? When I remember that there is no good in us apart from Christ, I am reminded of our utter need.

It is no coincidence that the next page in Luke is also about prayer:

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9‭-‬14 NLT

I wonder how much more our prayers about ourselves ought to be humble prayers seeking forgiveness, mercy, and the granting to us of repentance — while pleas for blessing and favor and healing might be best poured out first and foremost onto the need all around us? I wonder how often I have this backwards in a self serving manner?

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James 4:1‭-‬10 NLT

Lord, help us pray rightly and consistently and humbly close with you. Amen.

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