Pray? When?

June 16, 2021

Nothing will make us fall to our knees any quicker than bad news or a situation that breaks our heart and rocks our confidence. It’s easy in our hard times to either assume God is not pleased with us, we’re under evil attack, or that God is not paying attention and working. We pray hard and often to get Him involved. Even though our assumptions are wrong, they’re good and appropriate. God longs to help us and to be deeply involved in our struggles and challenges. He is pleased, and it is very wise on our part to pray for His help when our lives are not going well.

But what about when things are up and to the right? What about when the family is well and cooperative, the finances are manageable, work is good, and in all the major areas of life it seems that our efforts are being blessed? In these times, we don’t pray nearly as often. We may just assume we are being blessed and that actually, what else would you expect? We have been working hard and capably and of course we would get the good results. We think somehow we have made it happen ourselves.

None of these assumptions are correct or helpful. First, God does not base His relationship with us on our performance. He works WITH us, not against us. We live in a broken and challenging world. Our struggles can happen for a variety of reasons, but the one thing of which we can be sure is this: God is working with love in our lives, and even the most difficult times will be used to develop our intimacy with Him and bless our lives. He hears us when we pray.

But it is never true that the good times happen because of our own efforts. It is never correct that we have made the good things happen by ourselves and our own stellar efforts. Jesus tells the story of a man commonly described as the rich fool in Luke 12. He congratulated himself on the building of his wealth and patted himself on the back for all his great investments and decisions. God spoke to him and told him how foolish that assumption was, and on that very evening his run was over.

On the other hand, the palmist gives us an example of a person who realizes that everything we have, and all the ability we have to work and accomplish comes from God. He encourages us to recognize and honor God’s goodness. We are encouraged to thank Him for His blessings all the time, for all that He has done to enable us to prosper.

You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. Psalm 65:9-11 NLT

James 1:17, written by Jesus’ brother, reminds us that everything that is good and perfect is a gift from our perfect Father.

Sure, we have to do our part; we have to do the work. The ability to work is a gift from God as well. Behind everything we have is God.

Gratitude is the healthiest human emotion. Develop it and express it to God today.