Our first winter snowfall in our central Canadian town was commencing. Only a few blocks into our afternoon walk, the tiny pellets of hail came driving down on us as the wind picked up force. The “snow” was anything but fluffy and picturesque! Winter solstice may have been weeks away, but there was no denying that the seasons were changing. Winter, like everything except God, has a beginning. It took me until five years ago during a sermon to realize that prayer also has a beginning. The theme of prayer’s beginning, middle, and end resonated with me so much that I tore out those notes to keep when I was discarding my old journals!
There is record of prayer as early as when Adam and Eve’s third son Seth had a son named Enosh.
“At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26b).
What is it that makes us “call upon the name of the Lord”?
It would be less painful if we didn’t have to wait until we were at the end of our rope to ask God for help. That isn’t normally the case though. We seem to need awareness of our own lacking ability before we are capable of looking beyond ourselves. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Mark 2:17). As my sermon notes remind me, when our own powerlessness to fix the brokenness in our world is “married” with the acknowledgement of God’s power to accomplish His promises, they give birth to prayer.
Prayer is born in desperation. We need to need God.
Needy people can be exhausting for us. It’s a privilege to care for a child or aging parent, but the physical and emotional energy required does deplete our reserves. We are human after all. God, however, is not limited. He can handle our desperation.
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me” (Psalm 120:1).
When we call to Him, God is faithful to hear us.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… How much more [than an earthly father] will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11b).
Not only is the Lord capable of answering when we call on Him, but He also desires to answer. Actually, He even initiates, giving us good promises He intends to fulfill! And what better gift than the Promise Keeper himself?
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:18-19).
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