Lord teach us to pray

I am on day 9 of my 48 day journey and believe I have hit a wall.

I’m not tired of praying.  I haven’t grown weary or discouraged receiving prayer requests.  In fact, those times of prayer and connecting with others has brought great joy and hope.  The challenge has been how to pray.

It’s easy to pray to “lift others up” to God, or pray for comfort/peace in a struggle.  I get stuck on the idea of intercessory prayer on behalf of an individual, community, or a country.  When people who are sick, lost loved ones or have anxiety ask me to pray I want to pray for them in a way that honors them and God.  I then wonder, how should I pray for this person or situation?  Who am I to intercede?  Is the person’s request really his/her need?  What does God really want for this person?

Several years ago I was reading a book and a quote caught my eye:

The church is like Noah’s Ark: if it were not for the storm on the outside, no one could stand the stench on the inside.

–David Watson

We could spend some time discussing that quote and the impact it has had on my life, but that is for other posts!  This quote drew me to the author, and to a book he wrote:  Fear No Evil:  One Man Deals with Terminal Illness.

In this book Watson, an English evangelist and preacher, documented the final days of his life as he walked through a journey of terminal cancer.  It’s a remarkable and challenging book to read.  Watson receives prayer for healing, has people prophecy that he will survive the cancer all while he struggles to adjust his life to the illness.  His struggles are openly discussed as he wrestles with intercessory prayer, the nature of God, and ultimately his own suffering.

Watson’s final words, which I will share for you here, are a wonderful testimony – the more he suffered physically, the more he sought to draw near to Jesus.

The asthma persisted, so that I slept badly each night; my legs, ankles and feet blew up like balloons; and my abdomen grew at an astonishing rate until I looked like a pregnant woman. . . My arms and shoulders withered into mere skin and bones. . . I looked more dead than alive.

However God has been far from inactive in my life. At about one a.m. . . . I had a bad asthma attack. In my helplessness I cried out to God to speak to me. I’m not very good at listening to God, but between one and three a.m. God spoke to me so powerfully and painfully that I have never felt so broken before him. . .

He showed me that all my preaching, writing and other ministry was absolutely nothing compared to my love relationship with him. . .

God also showed me that my ‘love’ for him meant nothing unless I was truly able to love from my heart my brother or sister in Christ. As the Lord put various names into my mind I began to write letters to about twelve people asking for forgiveness for hurting them. . . It was the most painful pruning and purging I can remember in my entire Christian life. . .

Whatever else is happening to me physically, God is working deeply in my life. His challenge to me can be summed up in three words: ‘Seek my face.’ I am not now clinging to physical life (although I still believe that God can heal and wants to heal); but I am clinging to the Lord. I am ready to go and be with Christ for ever. That would be literally heaven. But I am equally ready to stay, if that is what God wants.

‘Father, not my will but yours be done.’ In that position of security I have experienced once again his perfect love, a love that casts out all fear.

–David Watson

As I reflect on what it means to pray, I have many questions.  Please pray for my soul that I would walk in obedience, seek truth, and that God’s love would pour through me into the lives of those around me.

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