My Two Cents: Jesus and Prayer

I hear a lot of yelling and shouting.

In the midst of terror, death, and darkness, I hear so much yelling and shouting.

I’ve heard all of it before.  All the yelling seems to come from a place of despair, anger, outrage, and annoyance. And rightfully so! It’s so interesting, though, how the same emotions can lead to such contrasting responses.

Someone yells, and the only ones listening agree with the person holding the megaphone. But there is no reaching across opposing lines. We’ve grown deaf to each other. And it’s no wonder. No one likes to be patronized or yelled at.

The only yelling we like to hear is the kind that expresses what we believe to be the solutions to all the worlds problems. Do I understand and respect the need to yell? Yes. Do I believe in the first amendment? Absolutely.

But there’s got to be a better way. Yelling can’t be it.

Over the last few years I have heard a newer message being yelled. And for the first time in a long time, I actually felt a deep, aching sorrow.

This sorrow was not physical or mental, it was not rooted in the sadness brought on by the depravity or evil that mankind can engage in. This was a sorrow of spiritual magnitude that only one who believes in the redemptive power of prayer can feel.

My eyes, mind, and soul cried when I heard this terrifying shriek.

THOUGHTS_AND_PRAYERS_ARE_NOT_ENOUGH

For a person who looks to Jesus for guidance and hope, this message knocked the wind out of me.

I don’t live under a rock, and I understand that there have always been people who deny the power of prayer for change in the world. But with new platforms on which to stand and use the right of free speech, this ideology has gotten louder.

And it’s done a lot of damage.

But just like any message, it eventually hits a wall. And this wall is settled on an unshakable Cornerstone.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough?

I respectfully disagree with this statement with every fiber of my being.

You see, there once lived a man who knew when, how, and by whom He was going to die. And His destiny was not to die warm in His bed while He slept, nor was He to trip and hit His head in just the right way to end His life. A disease would not ravage His body.

This man lived in order to die at the early age of 30, by the most horrifying method of torture and execution of His time. He had good days and bad days – dark days. On good days He would spend all of his time with all sorts of people. He would listen to them, talk to them, pray with them, feed them, heal what ailed them, and he would stop everything to let the children gather around him to talk or sing or play.

On His dark days, He would retreat.

On His dark days, He would pray.

He understood the power of prayer so profoundly, that He would summon His friends to pray too. Once, His friends took a nap instead of praying and He was pretty frustrated with them, which speaks to how badly He wished they would take prayer seriously.

No one knows how many bad days this man had, but the book about His life does tell us in great detail about what happened on the eve of His death.

He retreated.

He prayed.

He prayed so fervently and with such intensity that his body actually started to break down. The blood vessels around his face were so contracted, so strained, that they burst through his skin. He was in such physical pain over the agony of what he was going to experience, that he sweat. And His sweat was tinged with blood.

There was no yelling, He made no demands, there was no political stand substantial enough to sway Him. He just prayed.

That prayer resulted in a story that changed history, with political repercussions that have lasted centuries even to this very day. But most importantly, it lead a girl to die for her faith in Colorado in 1999. It inspires countless Christians to go where no one else dares go with nothing but a book and a testimony. It makes men and women brave to serve and face evil, at the risk of dying for what Jesus stood for. It moves a little girl to set up a lemonade stand as an excuse to tell people about her personal Super Hero.

It persuades people to fall on their knees in private to raise the loudest shout, the loudest yell that mankind can ever transmit through space and time. 

Because beckoning our Creator for help and rescue transcends the speed of sound, the speed of light, and the speed of thought.

All I’m saying is, fellow believers, please don’t lose hope in the one thing Jesus found comfort in on his bad days. When you feel despair and helpless over the horrors going on, don’t stay weary. Don’t settle for just calling your representatives, or just standing on your platform to say that mankind needs to solve problems rooted in fractured hearts (we can’t). Don’t even settle just doing as the world defines “doing”. Because “doing” and “taking action” means different things to different people.

As someone who is helpless without Jesus’ model, the definition of doing “enough” in the face of evil is completely different. [Not that I’m not guilty of forgetting Jesus’ model before].

Because isn’t any action we take just a band-aid if it’s not first made powerful to heal hearts and souls through our request for God’s intervention?

Jesus had a choice to be a band-aid, but he would have none of that.

His final dialogue with God was the only thing that gave him the strength to stand upright and peacefully approach His captors. Prayer was what kept him focused on his goal, which would cause the greatest revolution mankind will ever know.

To my fellow equal and friend, you who do not buy into all this, know that you are heard. I hear you. And I don’t blame you for your disquiet, for your anger. The fact that you are restless and proactive in the face of what is going on in our world gives me great hope.

So this one’s for the person who can’t imagine not devoting all your time to prayer when tragedy ensues.  Thank you for standing up for mankind, and bringing our shortcomings to the feet of the Father. Don’t waiver. I advocate for a lot of things, and you are one of them.

Don’t stop praying.

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