PRAYER, FIRST RESPONSE OR LAST RESORT?
“But as they sailed he (Jesus) fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him…”
PRAYER, FIRST RESPONSE OR LAST RESORT?
Why do we sometimes put off praying when a need arises or we find ourselves facing an impossible predicament? In our verses for today, the disciples were in a boat with Jesus in a terrible storm. They did everything they knew to do. They rowed harder and bailed the water out faster, but things only got worse. Finally, in desperation, they turned to Jesus for help. But note again when they called out to Him. They didn’t ask Him for help when the storm first began. They didn’t come to Him when the water began coming over into the boat. They waited till the boat was “filled with water and they were in jeopardy.” Then, the Bible says, “…they came to Him.” Why did they wait till the boat was about to sink to cry out to Him? Why are there times you and I do the same thing?
THE LITTLE BROWN PAPER SACK
It was when our church was still meeting in a local fitness center for worship, the Lord taught me a lesson to never put off asking Him for help. It happened after one of our Sunday evening Bible studies. Everyone was busy cleaning up and getting everything back in order in the building (Fitness Depot) we were using for worship. It was during that cleanup time, I received a phone call. While preoccupied on the phone, one of the guys handed me a brown paper sack. After I got off the phone and was about to lock up the building, I noticed a text from the same guy that said, “Just a reminder you’re to make the deposit tomorrow cause we couldn’t find the night deposit bag. It’s in the paper sack I gave you. Thanks!”
My heart sank! I remembered him giving it to me, but I had no idea what I did with that little brown paper sack! I had laid it down somewhere while walking around and talking on the phone. Frantically, I started retracing my steps, hoping I’d locate where I put that bag with the offerings inside it. I spent about 30 to 40 minutes looking everywhere I could think of in that 10,000 square feet building, but no brown paper sack! I could not imagine where I had put it! I had too much pride to call some of the other guys and admit to them what I had done . . . at least not yet. I wasn’t about to ask them to come back and help me look for it. So, as a last resort, I knelt and prayed, “Lord, You know where I laid that paper bag that has Your offerings in it! Please, Lord, help me find it!”
I’m not kidding! It was almost immediately that I saw in my mind’s eye a garbage can. You guessed it! While talking on my cell phone, not even realizing it, I had put that bag of money in the trash. The first garbage can I looked in, there it was! What a relief! There was over $12,000.00 in that bag I had thrown away! I dropped to my knees again and gave the Lord a big thanks for helping me! That was a miracle! When I finished praying, it was as though He said, “Why didn’t you ask me sooner?”
WHY IS IT WE PUT OFF PRAYING?
I think there are two possible reasons:
- We can become too PRIDEFUL. There’s that little word PRiDE. Have you ever noticed the middle letter in that word? It reminds me that little “i” can hinder me from admitting I can’t handle the big problem in front of me and “i” need help! Prideful self can get in the way of prayer. Somehow we think asking for help says to others we’re weak or not good enough on our own. So rather than humbling ourselves before the Lord and asking for help, we choose to wait till things get unbearable. For example . . . sometimes, as couples, we get into an argument. And most of the time, it’s ego vs ego and neither is willing compromise. Instead of stopping and praying together about the issue, we wait until things escalate. That’s when we say things in the wrong tone and use words we later regret. Sound familiar? That’s when the Lord might ask, “Why didn’t you ask me sooner?”
- Sometimes we feel too SHAMEFUL. It could be we’ve failed the Lord and sinned. We feel the guilt and shame. We think God is mad at us and has given up on us, so we’re slow to ask Him for forgiveness. But God never stops loving us nor does He ever give up on us! It’s like the man whose son kept getting in trouble time and time again. He was in and out of jail and continually making bad decisions. The dad’s friend said to him one day, “If that was my son, I’d give up on him!” That dad replied, “Well thank God he’s not your son. That’s my boy! I love him! And I’ll never give up on him!” And we should never believe the lie that God is mad at us and won’t forgive us when we turn to Him in prayer! The Bible says, “Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:26).
WHAT ABOUT YOU TODAY?
What “little brown sack” of difficulty are you facing today? Swallow your pride and admit you can’t face it alone! Stop searching for the answer by trying to figure it out yourself! Don’t throw a pity “poor me” party thinking the Lord has turned His back on you. Stop putting off asking the Lord to help you! Your boat may be filling up with water, but Jesus is just a prayer away! Call upon Him today! Remember this promise, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (psalm 46:1). What kind of help is God? He is “a very present help.” Call upon Him now. Then decide from here on out that prayer will be your first response, not the last resort!
Think it over . . . !
Doug Pierce is a Church planter and a pastor. In 2003 he started, and continues to pastor First Independent Methodist Church in Madison, Mississippi. His #1 priority is to glorify God in all aspects of ministry. He does this through teaching his congregation to Love God, Love One Another, and Love Others to God. Prayer, outreach, and church growth through evangelism are vital parts of his ministry. He and his wife Suzanne live in Madison, Mississippi where they also enjoy their children and grandchildren. To find out more about Doug‘s ministry visit the FIMC Website
Feature Image by Knowing Jesus