Watch With Me
“Thank you for praying for me, last night,” Rachel’s voice on the phone sounded more like her normal self. “I slept so much better, and it was easier to breathe.”
Instantly, I rewound my thinking to the previous evening. I remembered my alarm, as I listened to her speak so short of breath that I told her good-night before I wanted to, to spare her talking. At the end of that phone conversation, all I could recall that I did was cry for my suffering sister.
That sure wasn’t the way we were taught to pray in family devotions. But, it fits with Romans chapter eight: We don’t know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, or elsewhere translated “with sighs too deep for words.”
While teaching our children to pray is an essential responsibility, only God gives us lessons, through the agonies of life, that teach us the depths of intercessory prayer. In the words of a hymn, when we have exhausted our hoarded resources, and when we recognize God’s mercy is all I can cling to, only then, I suspect, do we recognize how dependent on Him we really are.
Often the words of another old hymn come to mind along these same lines: Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, Unuttered or expressed…Prayer is the burden of a sigh, The falling of a tear…Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, The Christian’s native air, His watchword at the gates of death: He enters heaven with prayer. And, the final stanza:
O thou by whom we come to God, The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer thyself hast trod: Lord, teach us how to pray. Amen.
--James Montgomery, 1771-1854--
In prayer meeting one morning, I confessed that I have never been able to discipline myself to fast, just for the sake of fasting. However, when I am caught up in someone’s serious need, if someone dear to my heart is in grave danger, fasting comes automatically. Hunger vanishes. By having attention so focused on a concern of this nature, food is simply out of the picture.
Could it be that fasting isn’t so much a discipline as it is an experience? For me, that’s what I see. Trying hard to fast, contrary to some arguments I’ve heard, does not focus my attention away from food and onto the need at hand. Just the opposite, my attention is distracted by the uncomfortable sensation of low blood sugar and hunger pangs! And yet, these distractions just evaporate when fasting becomes more of a by-product of agonizing in prayer for a loved one.
Nothing grabs our attention so much that we crave communion with our Savior as trouble. When our own soldier is in the combat zone, prayer for peace becomes that much more imperative. God knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. I’m convinced we can offer Him thanks, for times such as these, that He cuts us loose from daily chores to concentrate in prayer on what is really important.
And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him. ---Mark 14:34-40 (RSV)
Copyright 2008---Edy T Johnson---
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