I cannot pray for it all. That’s what I feel like. There are so many things in need of prayer right now that it seems impossible to pray for all of it. I’m praying for hearts of the youth to be touched by the Holy Spirit at the summer camp I’m serving as a leader at again this year. I’m praying for my fellow leaders as they struggle in prayer, too, since there seems to be so much to pray about. I’m praying for a fellow brother in Christ who has had trouble sleeping the last few weeks because it feels like something on his chest when he lies down and tries to do so. I’m praying for my wife, as she is pregnant once again and we’ve already experienced the loss of children we could not welcome into this world. I’m praying for my two boys as they are part of this missions camp, hoping that God would reveal more of Himself to them, hoping they would take more steps down the path towards Christian maturity, and begin to receive answers as to what their calling is in life. I’m praying for a friend as he begins a new relationship, asking God for this one to be different, that it would truly be a courtship seeking whether or not marriage is the right answer, and not a co-dependency situation once again. He has found himself in that situation the last two times that I’ve seen because he has a big heart and the two previous girlfriends have latched on to that and turned what could have been something beautiful into something far from what God intended. I could go on and on and on. There is so much to pray about.
I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. – Colossians 2:1-5, NIV
When I read these words of Paul, I realize he knew exactly what I feel right now. He was struggling for those at Colosse and Laodicea, but he wasn’t present with them. He said he was present in spirit. Sounds an awful lot like praying, doesn’t it? I’m sure that with Paul, that’s exactly what he was doing. He was praying over those believers. He was praying over their situations. He was lifting everything up to God, and he probably felt overwhelmed by it all. But he knew the God he served and loved. He knew that whatever it would take to struggle along, God would give him enough to make it. Paul knew what his goals were. He knew that even among people he hadn’t met, there was something to want for them, something to plead to God about on their behalf, something with which to wrestle with in prayer.
I’ve heard many a person say we don’t pray enough anymore. We take little snippets of time here and there. We say blessing over the food. We give a 30 second prayer in church when called upon. Our prayer services have devolved into another teaching lesson rather than getting before God, humbling ourselves, and seeking His face for however long it takes for the Spirit to move among us. We have forgotten that prayer means coming into the throne room of the Almighty, our Heavenly Father, and seeking an audience with Him. We wouldn’t do a 30-second snapshot with someone we think could solve a serious problem or issue that we have. We would give them the time it took to convince them to see our side of things. But we don’t do that with God. Maybe it’s because we know He already knows. Maybe it’s because we know He is sovereign and there is already a plan in place. Whatever our excuse, He tells us to come to Him in prayer. He asks us to seek fellowship with Him, and part of that is through serious, concerted prayer.
Maybe that’s why we sometimes feel like He doesn’t answer us. Or maybe that’s why we don’t understand His answer. We’re like a teenager having to check in with mom on a Friday night. We want to get that phone call over with as quickly as we can so we can turn back to our friends. I wonder how many times each day parents of teens get cut off with a good-bye when they still had something to say to their son and daughter. That’s exactly what we’re doing with God when we don’t take serious time to pray. We want to end it quick. Either we’ve got “bigger” things to do or we don’t like the direction something is going. This was something that came up in a conversation today with a brother in Christ. We need not cut off the Holy Spirit. We need not tell God to hush. But we do it too often.
I want to be overwhelmed. I want to have so much to pray about that I must take a long time to cover them all. I know that in the world around us, that situation is already true. There’s more than enough prayer concerns in my neighborhood, at my work, and in my church to keep me going 24 hours a day. But my awareness is lacking. My sensitivity isn’t what it should be. Lord, help improve my discernment. Help me see more about what it is I need to pray over. And convict my heart so that I spend the time You expect of me to pray. Lord, let that be my prayer today.