By WALTER ALBRITTON
Lent is a time for serious prayer. Prayer about our relationship to Jesus. Prayer for a world in crisis. Jesus never said, “If you pray.” He said, “When you pray.” He expects his followers to pray. And when we pray, Jesus suggested we begin by saying, “Our Father.”
Often, in crisis hours, our prayers will be passionate cries for our Father’s help. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed fervently, seeking His Father’s guidance. Luke describes it this way, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Perhaps it was this scene in Gethsemane that caused Jesus’ brother James to say, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Praying fervently will not always cause God to change our circumstances but it will often result in the fainthearted becoming stouthearted in heartbreaking hours.
Jesus prayed fervently before making major decisions. Once he prayed intensely all night. We would make fewer mistakes, in judgment or spirit, if we spent hours in prayer before making decisions. To trust and obey Jesus is to seek and rely on His guidance in everyday life.
Earnest prayer allows God to intervene in our lives. John Wesley said boldly, “God does nothing except in answer to prayer.” My faith has been strengthened often by examples of God answering prayer. I shall never forget the woman who shared with me a telephone call from her grown daughter. In great distress, her daughter called to say goodbye. Her life was in shambles and she was ready to take her life. Her mother began praying fervently and said, “Honey, I want you to get down on your knees and hold the phone so you can hear me as I pray for you.”
Praying as earnestly as she had ever prayed in her life, that mother asked the Lord to reach down and touch her daughter, forgive her for all her sins and show her a way out of her dilemma. She concluded by praying, “Lord, give my precious daughter victory over her doubt and depression. Give her faith to know that Satan no longer has power over her. Help her hold your hand, dear Jesus, and give her the courage to pick up the broken pieces of her life and make a new start.”
That mother’s fervent prayer saved her daughter’s life. It was not, of course, the prayer that saved her, but the God to whom the prayer was made. Our Father is ready to do mighty works of grace in our lives, in our families and in our world — in answer to our earnest prayers. The wisest thing we can do, when we pray, is to trust our Father, as Jesus did, to hear and answer our prayers and lead us out of the darkness into the sunshine of His love.
Let us pray.