Sunday: The Past and the Future

One day, a young man received a letter from a former co-worker, someone who had retired a number of years earlier. The two workers, to put it mildly, hadn’t gotten along; the one who had left, from the start, had treated the other one badly. Anyway, the worker still there opened the letter and started to read. Among the words were the following: “You know, I don’t understand how prayer works, never did, at least intellectually. I do know, however, that we have been told to pray and over the past few weeks, as I’ve been praying, I’ve been greatly convicted about how I treated you all that time. I see that I was wrong, un-Christlike, and a horrible witness for my faith. I know I should have done this a long time ago, but I do sincerely apologize. I have to claim Christ’s forgiveness for what I have done, no matter how unworthy I am, and now I ask for your forgiveness as well.”1

In many ways, this story exemplifies the power of prayer. It’s not so much to get God to move mountains, though that can happen. Instead, it can cause something even more miraculous: it can change the human heart.

As the person wrote, prayer isn’t always easy to understand. Why ask God for something if He knows about it already? Will God not do something unless we ask for it first? Can our prayers really change what the Creator God will do?

Whether we understand how prayer works or not, one thing is certain: without it, our walk with the Lord is destined to failure.

Read the following texts. What’s the main point that they all have in common? Matt. 26:41Luke 18:11 Tim. 2:81 Thess. 5:171 Pet. 4:7Col. 4:2Rom. 12:12.  

No question, as Christians we are told to pray and to pray often. That we might not understand how prayer works is, really, beside the point. Most of us don’t fully understand how anything works, be it secular or sacred. If we waited until we fully understood all the issues regarding our faith, then it would hardly be faith, would it? The very word faith itself implies that there are elements beyond our intellectual grasp. One thing, though, that anyone who prays consistently and fervently—and according to the will of God—can testify to is that prayer can, and does, change our lives.

What is your understanding of prayer? How has it impacted your life? Where would you be in your Christian walk without prayer?



Sunday: The Past and the Future — 6 Comments

  1. Prayer is powerfull. It's the only means to a relationship with God, communion with God. It's a heart to heart connection. Deep sincere prayer brings you into spiritual dimensions beyond thoughts in the presence of our dear Lord. We become so conscious of our need of God's grace. Christ's example of prayer makes it abundantly clear how central prayer needs to be in our walk with God.

  2. Why would God who knows already what we want to ask behave like the Judge in Matt 26:41? Why would he wait until he gets fed up with our request to answer us? What is the whole purpose of this?

  3. Dear Sitemba,

    Are you not referring to the judge in Luke 18:5? If so, please note that Jesus called this man "the unjust judge." God is certainly not an unjust Judge, so I think we need to limit our interpretation of any given parable to the point(s) that Jesus was evidently making. Jesus was certainly not making a comparison of attitude here, IMHO, but only a comparison of behaviour. In other words, God may act a little bit like that judge -- for entirely different reasons -- but we need to be just as persistent in bringing our petitions to Him. Perhaps the process of pressing our requests home to the Throne of Grace gives us opportunity to examine our motives?

    • R.G. you said,

      “In other words, God may act a little bit like that judge — for entirely different reasons — but we need to be just as persistent in bringing our petitions to Him.”

      I understand what you are saying here but feel that the way you state things needs to be further explained for “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5 NKJV) neither is there any unloving or uncaring attitude in Him so we can't really equate the unjust judge with God in any way.

      What we need to see here is the purpose for the parable in the context in which it is given.

      “Christ had been speaking of the period just before His second coming, and of the perils through which His followers must pass. With special reference to that time He related the parable ‘to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint’" {COL 164.1}.

      The parable then has to do with the experience of the righteous at the end of time when it could well be asked, “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 NKJV).

      The parable really has nothing to do with God’s character at all but rather about the relationship the righteous have to Him. He was discussing how we relate to God not the other way around.

      Christ here draws a sharp contrast between the unjust judge and God. The judge yielded to the widow's request merely through selfishness, that he might be relieved of her importunity. He felt for her no pity or compassion; her misery was nothing to him. How different is the attitude of God toward those who seek Him. The appeals of the needy and distressed are considered by Him with infinite compassion. {COL 165.1}

      The parable, then, is about persistence in prayer and clinging to the source of all blessing in spite of discouragements and delay. God is working things out but there are issues that may delay the answer. One of them is that God, “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4 NKJV). For, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9 NKJV). So what about those who cause us trouble? What about things in our own lives that need to be straightened out first? So, we need to be patient and let God work things out in His own way according to His timing - not ours.

      • Tyler, you are absolutely right. I applaud your comment. God bless all who contributed to Sunday part.

  4. Thank you for your clarification, I particularly like R.G White's comment to say 'Perhaps the process of pressing our requests home to the Throne of Grace gives us opportunity to examine our motives?'
    This is true because sometimes we make selfish requests in prayer which if answered would do more harm than good to us. I have personally thanked God for some of my unanswered prayers which would have destroyed me both spiritually and socially.

    This reminds me one of Garth Brooks songs where he said, "some God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers"


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