Prayer is not easy. Some might think it is but in reality prayer is hard work because it is demanding. There is an interesting passage filled with challenge found in Luke 22 which deals with “the work of prayer” in the life of a believer.
Lk 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
(1) Perhaps a theme here would be “preventing temptation”, for Jesus says in verse 40 … Pray that you will not fall into temptation … and then in verse 46 … Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
(2) Jesus’ praying was an extremely serious business because He was confronted with the Cross. The temptation, as He was in the flesh, to escape Calvary must have been huge. Just picture the details explained in Isaiah 53. He knew what He faced. The only option for Him was serious engagement with Father in prayer.
(3) Jesus’ praying was intense. He sweat so that it looked like blood. Although the reality of the Cross was so great, through prayer He submitted to Father’s will … yet not my will, but yours be done.
(4) His disciples, like us, were extremely lax when it came to praying. They prayed … for a bit … and then slept at length. Jesus overcame the temptation to surrender through prayer. The disciples, like us, submitted to temptation … sleep … the thief of intentional prayer. I have admired Dick Eastman’s determination and tenacity in ministry. We might not stand 100% on the same theological page but he dwarf’s me in prayer. He wrote a few books on prayer, especially evangelistic praying.
(a) Love on its knees provides a method to pray for the lost. Because you love you pray.
(b) No easy road reminds us that prayer is hard work … and …
(c) The hour that changes the world. This book explains how to divide prayer up into 12 five minute segments. Whilst all three books are very helpful, I found the last one tremendously helpful when crafting a proper Quiet Time and praying for lost souls. Prayer is hard work because we are facing massive challenges as we battle the enemy of God and ourselves. Perhaps now when you re-read the following passage it shows you the true magnitude of prayer. True prayer is not focused on self. Prayer focuses on the bigger picture of what God is doing and intends to do in our world.
Da 2:16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. 17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
(1) Time was needed to
(2) Pray. The word “plead” shows the intensity of prayer. This praying was all about living or dying. Prayer is hard work.
1) Real prayer does not disappoint!
Da 2:19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.
We don’t need all the details of the vision because we might try and duplicate it. That is not the intent of the verse. The verse wants us to grasp that God comes true on His children’s faith in prayerful engagement. Beloved, God does answer prayer. I love the illustration used in Sunday School when teaching on prayer. The green traffic light says “yes” … the answer is easily identified. The red traffic light says “no” … you can’t have what you want. The amber traffic light says “wait” … God will answer, in His way, at the right time. All three lights provide answers because God always answers the prayers of His people. Daniel and his friends prayed earnestly. That is the meaning of “plead”. Their prayers were agonizing before the Throne of Grace. The complex mystery of the king …. “what was my dream and what does it mean?” is revealed in a vision … revelation is provided. That’s how God worked in those days … and although He is able to do so today, it is unnecessary because He has given us His Word and His Word contains all things necessary for all of life.
2) Prayer leads to praise. Very often we forget to thank God for His answers to our prayers. We take Him for granted. We can be abusive. Yet Daniel not only dared to ask the king for time (to pray), he dared to ask God to reveal the mystery to him … and God did. What follows is a heart filled with love, joy and confidence. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
Da 2:20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Daniel teaches us here how to praise God in thanksgiving for answered prayer. Notice how he
(1) Praises the Name of God, including His character, personality, authority, power, knowledge into that which is secret (lies in darkness – the king’s dream), and Lordship.
(2) He then, with thanksgiving, focuses on what God does for him. “You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you …” This is so interesting because it shows that Daniel’s God is radically different to those of the “wise men”. Their idols are dead pieces of material. God is living and active. Nothing throughout all creation happens without His permission, and this is the lesson we need to learn.
(3) Daniel includes his prayer partners … you have made known to us the dream of the king. Prayer never takes credit to self. First there is praise to God and then there is credit to “us” the prayer support group. We need to return to this tomorrow. Prayer offered by those who love and obey God is powerful because God hears and answers as He know best for us.
Thank You, Jesus. Amen.