IS IT TIME TO PRAY?

The title of this post is not hard to answer, is it? Of course it’s time to pray; for Christians it is always time to pray! There are occasions, situations, circumstances, and seasons when our prayers are more intense, but as children of God and followers of Jesus we are a people who are invited, encouraged, and taught to pray. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “there is a time for everything,” To borrow from that, I’m thinking “anytime and all the time is a time to pray.”

The record of the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels makes it clear Jesus was a person of prayer. Three passages especially get my attention:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12).

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1).

Jesus has not only set the example for us, by his example he has given us direction.

We’re not surprised that the Apostle Paul, the most prolific writer in the New Testament, also set the example and gives us direction. Reinforcing the point of this blog, Paul challenges us:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Paul also models for us asking for prayer from other believers in Romans 15:20, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”

Yes, it is a time to pray, and it is always a time for believers to pray. To repeat what I wrote in the first paragraph is this post: there are occasions, situations, circumstances, and seasons when our prayers are more intense. I think we all will agree we are now in one of those situations and seasons. Right now our list of people and needs to pray for is longer than it usually is. I encourage you to reread the passages quoted above and follow the examples and instructions of both Jesus and Paul.

Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook.

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WHAT ARE YOU ASKING FOR?

As we come to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter these next two weeks I have been reading Mark’s account of Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem. Even though I have read it many times before, as well as preached from it, I was struck by the account of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.

Verse 46 tells us as Jesus, His disciples, and a large crowd were leaving Jericho there was a blind man named Bartimaeus “sitting by the roadside begging.” Like today, it was not uncommon in Jesus’ day for people to be at high traffic areas begging. What was uncommon was what Bartimaeus shouted when he heard that Jesus was coming by: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The title he used for Jesus indicated his high regard for Him.

Verse 47 tells us many in the crowd scolded and quieted him, but that only caused him to shout even louder. Hearing the shouting, Jesus stopped and instructed those with him to “Call him.” Now those who were previously quieting him began telling him to cheer up and get on his feet because Jesus was calling him. And Bartimaeus did not need to be told twice as he threw his cloak aside, jumped up, and went to Jesus.

Jesus’ question in verse 51 is what struck me: “What do you want me to do for you?” In his initial calls to Jesus he asked for mercy, but in response to Jesus’ question he was specific: “Rabbi, I want to see.” Then Jesus granted his request telling him in verse 52, “Go, your faith has healed you.” The account concludes with “Immediately he received his sight and followed along the road.”

The fact that Bartimaeus is one of the very few named that Jesus helped suggests to me this is an important account. I note the boldness, persistence, responsiveness, openness, and faith of Bartimaeus. And once he received his sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus.

Hopefully you and I know who Jesus was and is even more clearly than Bartimaeus did. We know Him as Jesus; we know what the title Son of David means; and we look to Him as our teacher (Rabbi). We also know Him as our Savior and Lord.

I’ve been looking to Bartimaeus as an example and encouragement for me in prayer. In addition to the elements of praise and thanksgiving, one of my general requests lately has been for mercy. The Bible is clear that God is a God of mercy and I know that I need His mercy even when I am not aware of my need.

I am most intrigued by Jesus’ question: “What do you want me to do for you?” In his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage James Martin makes three statements that challenge me to do some serious thinking. First he suggests “Jesus sees something liberating in identifying and naming our desires.” Two paragraphs later he says “Notice that Jesus does not say, ‘Bartimaeus, just accept the way things are’.” Then the takeaway for me, “when we stand before God in prayer we should feel comfortable expressing our longings.”

In addition to asking the Lord for mercy, I also have a few specifics; in your prayers today what are you asking for?

Feel free to share your comments below and share these thoughts on social media.

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