Life has beginnings and ends, some welcome and others hard to receive, but most of our living is in the middle. Most prayer is spent in the “middle” too. Prayer first appears in Scripture in Genesis 4 when “people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 26). There is no further explanation about the context of what was going on that might have led them to call upon God. In any case, we need to need God before we come to Him in prayer. Prayer is born in desperation (see Part 1 “Prayer’s Beginning” here). Yet calling out to the Lord doesn’t end at the start. Prayer’s middle could be described as living in longing.
The LORD gave promises of blessing and multiplication to Abraham, but the reality of his seed blessing “all the nations of the earth” was never fully realized in his lifetime or for many centuries after. (Gen 22:18 NASB). God would fulfill His promise as He said (Gal 3:29), but for the Israelites the question might have been “when?” And maybe before that— “how?” They waited (sometimes well, sometimes poorly) year after year, for God to bring about His intended promises.
When we pray, and pray again, we are demonstrating a desire to see God’s promise fulfilled. And God does keep His promise. Jesus Christ has fulfilled God’s promise to send the Messiah, but it’s still hard living in the middle now. We are living in the “already/not yet” reality of God’s kingdom because we are in between Jesus’s first and second comings. Many of us are experiencing individual realities of “already/not yet.” We’ve acknowledged that we need God, but next comes a journey of praying through earthly realities full of trials and struggle.
Each of us have times when the Spirit helped us pray without despair in the midst of uncertainty. Clinging to His past faithfulness, we could pray with confidence in the truth of who God is and His Word even though the results were unknown. Prayer’s first call is desperation for God to act, but prayer’s each breath onward fills our hearts and lives with longing for all His promises to be completed.
Remember the answer of Jesus to give you reason to pray. From there, let God’s promises guide your prayers that they may give Him glory. One day heaven and earth will be joined together, but until then we live and pray with aching and hopeful longing. We pray in the middle how Jesus taught us to pray:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
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