Fight to Pray

Matthew 7:7

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Have you heard this before?  Whether you’re nervous to ask your boss for some time off, or your professor for an extension on a project, or your spouse for some time away from the kids.  Maybe someone told you, “Just talk to them about it, it doesn’t hurt to ask!”

Recently, I’ve been learning this in my own life: being bold enough to ask knowing that regardless of the answer and the result, at least I asked.

Last year, before our oldest daughter Alivia turned fourteen, we celebrated her stepping into womanhood with a “rite of passage” party. Part of it was asking some of the key women in her life to speak words of wisdom and encouragement over her, and for those who live far away to send a text or a video to her.  One of Alivia’s favorite actresses is Jennifer Lawrence, and I thought maybe I could reach out to her and see if she would be willing to write a note to Liv.  The day the party, an envelope arrived in the mail and it was addressed to Alivia.  It was the last note Liv opened that night and she couldn’t believe it.  It was a handwritten note from Jennifer, and it was precious.  I honestly didn’t think I would hear back, but I remember thinking, “it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask.”

What I’ve also learned is that it’s not the same with God, although that’s how we can tend to approach Him.  We might tell ourselves something like, “this request seems a little much, and I highly doubt that God would respond to something like this, but hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask!”

The truth is God wants to respond and He wants to answer us and He wants to do the impossible in our lives, but so often we’re reluctant to ask.

Whether we don’t want to ask, or we don’t think it’s a big enough deal, or we just don’t think the situation or person can change, we just don’t pray.

Jesus said this in Matthew 7:7 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

He goes on to mention that God wants to give us good gifts.  If we being human can give good gifts to our kids, how much more will God give?

One night I was putting my son Lennox to bed, or in other words trying to tame the beast, and get him to go to sleep.  We had finished reading, and listening to one of his favorite songs, and as I was praying for him (trying to whisper to help him calm down) he told me, “Mom! Pray bigger! Pray bigger!”  I knew he meant that he wanted me to pray louder, but his request hit me.

I need to pray bigger, more specific, more bold prayers.  Yes I need to pray bigger all the time, but especially now in times of uncertainty, and even more when I’m hurting and suffering.

I know this because of what Luke 22:44 says speaking of Jesus as He prayed the night before He was crucified,

 Because He was very sad and troubled, He prayed even harder. His sweat was like drops of blood.

We know He was suffering and not wanting to go through with dying on the cross because of what He prayed right before this,

Father, if You are willing, take this cup of suffering away from Me. But do what You want, not what I want. — Luke 22:42 NiRV

Jesus asked God to take away the suffering.  But ultimately His request was that God’s will, not His, would be done.  He was honest with His pain, but He knew He wanted what God wanted, and that was the most important thing.

Here Jesus is laying out for us an example to follow in the middle of navigating our own suffering and heartache.  Jesus’ response in the hardest, heaviest time in His life was to call out to God, His Father.  And so can we.

But what do we do when we feel the weight of sorrow and grief weighing down on our chest? We pray.  We run to the One who knows us best because He created us.  We run to the One who will not only hold us, but who will strengthen us and lead us through the pain, for His glory.  And we can pray specifically, we can pray boldly because God wants us to run to Him when our lives are going good, and when we are experiencing our most difficult day.

But we shouldn’t be surprised when suffering comes. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says

Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the terrible things happening to you. The trouble you are having has come to test you. So don’t feel as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will have even more joy when Christ returns in glory.

It’s a whole new way to walk through the trials and the tests.  We don’t need to think it’s strange, but we can see it as an opportunity for more joy and for becoming more like Jesus.  Like James 1:2-3 says,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

But how do we do this?  We pray. And then we keep praying.  But how? Well, I will honestly tell you that it’s a struggle for me, and something I want to keep growing in.  I know people who have a certain place they pray like a prayer closet, and that sounds amazing to me.  I tried one time to make my bathroom one.  I took sticky notes and put them in a drawer and then whenever I was in the restroom, I would pray for someone, write down the request and stick it on the back of the door.  That was four years ago and I haven’t added anything to it.  In my heart I want a specific place and if you have one, I think that’s special.  But right now in my life with little kids and a two year old that would come in one swift motion and sabotage my prayer closet, I take moments through the day. I try my best to keep some portion of the morning for not just reading the Bible, but for speaking to Him, crying out to Him for help and perspective and strength and peace, etc.

Jesus showed us how to pray in times of crisis and suffering, and no matter what kind of heartache and pain you are walking through today, look up.  See God’s faithfulness, ask Him to be glorified in this.   Look out and see the people around you, and pray for them.  Pray for salvation, pray for perspective, for joy in the midst of the trial, and for God to strengthen you like never before.

It not only doesn’t hurt to ask God to move and heal and save, but it actually hurts us to not ask. He wants to restore and bless and strengthen, so when we don’t come to Him, believing He is good and He is able and He is willing, we miss out and we prevent Him from doing what He wants in our lives.

So we can fight to pray, right now, whatever the season, God is near, He is good, and He is on the move in your life.

Written for Devotionals Daily by Jennie Lusko, author of The Fight to Flourish.

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Your Turn

What are you asking God for right now? Healing? Finances? The mending of a relationship? New friendships? Hope? Keep praying! Fight for it knowing that God is good and He is with you! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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