Some things in life are just too big for us to handle. Let’s say you have a child who is extremely allergic to insect stings. You’re on vacation, and the child is stung by a wasp. The antihistamine is not working. Help is on the way, but the child is now unconscious, having serious trouble breathing. You are helpless to do anything more, except … to pray.
“God, please let him breathe!Please let the EMTs get here in time! I beg You, God!”
Even people who seldom pray—even people who are not sure that they believe in God—will resort to prayer in times when there is no other hope. Yet when we think we have life under control, even believers in God may neglect approaching God in prayer.
A Problem of Shortsightedness
We think we are capable of handling most of life. But Jesus bluntly said, “Apart from Me you can accomplish nothing.” (John 15:5) Somewhere, someone is responding, “That is flat out false! I’m doing all kinds of stuff right now!” Yes, but think about it for a second. Do you cause yourself to exist? Did you give yourself the IQ that you enjoy? Those natural abilities that seem to come so easily to you, but that others can’t match even when they try—did you give those talents to yourself?
The truth is, we can cultivate the things that are given to us in life, but we didn’t choose to be born in a land of opportunity. We didn’t choose our own genetics. So, yes, in a profound sense, apart from our Creator and Savior, we cannot even breathe or walk or think clearly!
Plus, in all our self-assured independence, we have no crystal ball to see into the future. We don’t know whether our best efforts will unknowingly create unforeseen future disaster or ongoing future blessing.
No, Jesus was right—apart from Him, we can do nothing! And only an omniscient, omnipotent God can cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
Jesus’ Model and Jesus’ Offer
When Jesus Christ humbled Himself and took on human form, he made Himself like us in so many ways. He depended on His mother Mary to nurse Him as an infant. He depended on His stepfather Joseph to carry Him to safety in Egypt when His life was in danger. And most importantly, He depended on God the Father to provide for Him, to empower Him, and to vindicate Him.
Jesus prayed during the time of His earthly ministry.
- Matthew 14:23 says, “And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”
- Mark 1:35 says, “Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer.”
Jesus instructed His followers to pray.
- He said, for example, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)
He explained the nature of our Heavenly Father, who desires to meet even our everyday needs in response to our prayer.
- Jesus taught, “Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
In one single evening, Jesus promised His apostles four times that prayer in His name would be answered. He promised:
- “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)
- “… whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (John 15:16)
- “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:24)
Jesus demonstrated confidence in the power of prayer.
- In the confusion on the night of His arrest, He told His followers, “Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels [i.e. 72,000 angels] right now?” (Matthew 26:53)
So why on earth would we not pray—“constantly?” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17) Ask for daily needs. (Matthew 6:11) Ask for relief from anxiety. (Philippians 4:6-7) Ask for wisdom. (James 1:5)
It honors God when we ask for His help. (Psalm 50:15)
Let’s not just wait for times of crisis to turn to God in faith. How pleasant it is to live life in constant communication with our God and Savior!
Answered prayer–another good reason for believing in Jesus!
For Further Reading:
Paul Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, NavPress, 2009.