~ Guest Post by Les Ferguson, Jr. ~
Prayer Text for Today is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It’s full of ups and downs, joy and grief, and more things than we could list here.
Like you, I have known mountain top experiences and the valleys of despair. I’ve danced in the sun and limped under the clouds.
Like you, I have reveled in the moment and embraced a seemingly bright future.
And like you again, I have despaired at the moment and wondered how there could ever be a future of beauty and peace, happiness and joy.
Unfortunately, there are details of my life that are not secret. Some of them I have willingly shared in public rants and angry recriminations toward our God.
Even harder, my very worst, my biggest struggle, my greatest heartache, my most devastating circumstance, and my biggest loss have all been front-page news and the subject of TV talking heads.
I have known bitterness and gall.
I have contemplated suicide.
I have lost all hope.
I have not known where to go.
Like James Taylor once sang,
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,
You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
and I won’t make it any other way.
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
but I always thought that I’d see you again.
Maybe you can relate.
Maybe you can empathize.
Maybe you can only sit back and question or judge.
It doesn’t really matter.
Because when it is all said and done, each of us share a common difficulty—at least at some point in our lives.
I know I run the risk of over generalizing, but unless you are the very rare odd bird, I feel quite confident I am going to nail one of your own failures or inadequacies…
Prayer is a source of angst and frustration!
Oh, we know we need to pray.
And most of us do.
We have times of focused prayer.
We have plans to stay connected by prayer.
We talk about prayer.
We ask for prayer.
We offer to pray.
And so we do.
At times it can be an afterthought or a last resort.
Often, prayer is about going before the “throne room of God” with our petitions, wants, needs, and desires.
And God help us, it’s often like we are pulling into the drive through lane at our favorite fast food joint to place an order—an order we expect God to answer/ fill within the exact parameters we have established. And like the occasional extra order of fries at no extra charge, if God does us one better, then that’s just lagniappe…
Unfortunately, that whole scenario is nothing more than the have it your way mentality of Burger King all dressed up in in theological neon!
It can be such a joy, but for many of us it is often a struggle far beyond a momentary frustration or angst.
And while you may already know my public struggles and heartache, I can and will confess a major difficulty—one I am quite sure I share with countless others and probably you too.
Prayer is not easy.
Prayer is difficult.
Prayer is a burden particularly when all I know how to do is beg, plead, and demand–and stomp my feet.
So for those who struggle, what do we do with this?
Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)
Or, as the King James Version says:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Pray without ceasing?
A long time ago in a life lived far away, a young man who is now a minister himself once said to me… I never say “Amen” until the very end of my day.
I remember being impressed at the time with what must have been an ongoing and ever active prayer life.
I wanted what he had and I have never quite known what he expressed.
Pray without ceasing.
I wonder what my life would have been like—even through the fire and pain—if my connection to God was ongoing, ever present, and without end?
What would yours be like?
My prayer for this coming New Year is going to be repetitive:
Lord, please help me stay connected to you. Help me seek your presence every moment of every day. Help me to quit being self-sufficient while learning to trust the All Sufficient. Make my prayers be never ceasing. Amen.
I am praying for ceaseless prayer.
Les Ferguson, Jr. Prayer Neophyte Extraordinaire.
Les is the preaching minister for the Lake Harbour Church of Christ in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He and his beautiful wife Becky are raising a house full of boys. You can connect with him on Facebook HERE. Read his blog HERE. Connect with him on Twitter HERE. Les does some messages on grief, hope, recovery. Give him a call to have him come speak at your church soon.