Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pray continually... and have a good attitude about it!

The subject of praying continually has been on my mind and in my heart a lot lately, so much so that I decided to blog about it here.

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with the number of prayer requests I receive every week. Do you know what I'm talking about? The cares and concerns of family members and friends are often enough to make me want to hang my head and cry. There are so many hurting people! I find myself almost wanting to turn a deaf ear to yet one more need, one more sad situation. I often just don't know how to pray effectively, but guess what? We're called to pray. And not just pray, but pray continually.

I've started making a mental list of those I have been asked to pray for lately, and honestly, the number is staggering. I have family and friends who are currently...

coping with divorce,

exhausted caretakers of elderly parents with major physical & emotional issues,

living with life-threatening illnesses,

struggling to help their nearly-grown child, who frequently finds drama and trouble, to learn from past mistakes and to move forward,

on an emergency trip home to visit a sick family member whose prognosis is unknown,

on an emergency trip home to attend a funeral after the unexpected death of a beloved parent,

living with Alzheimer's,

struggling with how to best serve the Lord; they have willing hearts, but unable bodies to serve in the way they had originally planned,

going through yet another military deployment,

dealing with family members' alcohol addiction...

The list could truly go on and on. You may have a similar list of needs and concerns, whether written or in your heart, that you're constantly praying over. It's easy to get depressed when I realize how much suffering there is in our world, just among the people I know personally. How can I possibly help any of these people? I can't. Not alone anyway. But I know someone who can, and hopefully you do too. Our Heavenly Father has the ability. He is mighty and capable, and He knows our deepest needs.

Amazingly enough, this same topic of praying continually came up today in the women's Bible study I attend. Coincidence? Nah, I totally think it was a God thing. I ♥ God things, don't you? Anyway, here's what the Bible tells us about praying continually...

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV, 2011)

How on earth is it possible to rejoice and give thanks while praying over unhappy circumstances? Is God serious? Does He really expect us to be able to have a good attitude in the process? Yes... He really does! Admittedly, that's a huge challenge for me. I don't have what I would call a strong prayer life. I'm selfish with my time and I'm not exactly the most faithful prayer warrior. I'm aware, however, that I'm a work in progress, and God is patient with my inadequacies. I'm trying to be more faithful with my prayer time. And let's face it, our world needs all the prayers we can pray... and then some!

The rejoicing & giving thanks part of prayer... well, I have to work on those aspects too. I don't think God expects me to be "happy" about the sorrow and suffering of others. I think He wants me to find hope & joy in the relationship I'm continually building with Him as I pour out my heart to Him and intercede for others, and that's where I can eventually find that thankful spirit. I can be thankful having the knowledge that God is always with me (and you) and He's not going anywhere. He hears our prayers, mine and yours.

I've often thought that there are certain times when praying is simply all we can do, but it's always the best we can do.

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