Faith & Insight: Seasoning life with prayer
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
It’s summertime, which, for many, welcomes a different rhythm than the other seasons of the year. Particularly for those with young families, summer can offer enhanced family time with kids being out of school. But for all of us, the warm weather opens myriad possibilities for outdoor activities, travel, recreation, and leisure.
And in harmony with this also comes a natural opportunity to take a step back when things might not be so rushed to ponder the current season of life we find ourselves in — and to pray.
Now, please, please, please don’t misunderstand me. Prayer is important at anytime, anywhere, on any subject, and for any length of time. It’s certainly not relegated to one of the four seasons. However, God’s gift of seasons can sometimes bring us to specific times and places when and where we’re inspired to reflect on the season of life we’re experiencing.
Living in one of the most beautiful corners of the world, time spent on a lake, river, mountain trail, or simply away from the noise, represents an amazing opportunity in relative solitude to open our hearts to the Lord for whatever it is we’re experiencing.
In fact, in a couple different places in the New Testament of the Bible, we see where Jesus took time away from his disciples and his teaching to pray — in the mountains.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)
The most important thing to remember is that prayer is powerful, even though sometimes we don’t quite know where to start, or even how to really go about it.
The late great Billy Graham, known by many as America’s Pastor and one who preached to more Protestant Christians than anyone in history, had a couple of very simple encouragements about prayer.
“Prayer is simply talking to God — and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to him,” Graham said (www.billygraham.org). “He loves us and he has promised to hear us when we pray.”
There is nothing the Lord wants more than to have a loving relationship with us. And just like it is on this side of heaven with our friends, loved ones, co-workers, etc., a meaningful relationship takes communication.
“The Bible says, ‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’” (Hebrews 4:16), Rev. Graham continued. “If you have never done so, ask Christ to come into your life today.”
There is nothing that can separate us from God’s great love and his passion for our prayers, which he promises to hear us. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Now, God’s timing is not always our timing when it comes to responding to our petitions, but one of his great followers and the author of much of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, reminds us to “pray without ceasing.”
So, whatever season you find yourself in, be it one filled with joy or sadness; good or poor health; hopefulness or despair; confidence or trepidation, or any other place, the Lord already knows what’s on your heart. He simply wants you and me to trust him by talking about it.
And that trust begins and is sustained through prayer — even if it sometimes means venting. He’s got big enough shoulders for it. Even God’s own son, Jesus Christ, challenged him as he hung on the cross, asking him “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Life isn’t easy, but then again, Jesus never said it would be. “Into this world you will have trouble,” but he then quickly reminds us, “but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Whether you’ve never prayed, or not done so in a while, or you’re a prayer warrior, the Lord loves all his children equally, and he wants to hear from us — the good, the bad and the ugly. Nothing can separate us from his love.
Brian Underwood is the director of school development at Sierra Lutheran High School.