Pray Like You Mean It.
“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.” – Isaiah 62:6-7 NLT
What role does prayer really play in our lives? Is it a last-resort measure we take when all else fails? Do our prayer lives improve only when things take a turn for the worse? Do we pray half-heartedly and unexpectantly? Do we pray with power and passion? How much does praise factor into our prayers? This mornings readings in Isaiah 62 and 63 were a well-needed reminder of the multifaceted and non-negotiable nature of prayer. It is NOT an option, but a necessity for living the Christian life. Prayer should be like oxygen to the life of the believer. We can’t exist without it. Isaiah seemed to know that. He said, “Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1 NLT). While Isaiah had the unenviable job of prophesying about Israel’s coming judgment, it didn’t mean he enjoyed it or relished the idea of Israel having to suffer discipline at the hands of God. He didn’t look forward to seeing Jerusalem demolished and the Temple destroyed. So while he was busy prophesying, he also prayed. And his prayers were motivated by love. He loved the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel. So he prayed. He couldn’t help but pray. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut. And he wouldn’t stop praying until he was able to see Jerusalem restored. His prayers were motivated by love and persistent.
Isaiah reminds us, “Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work” (Isaiah 62:7 NLT). But the truth is, we get tired of praying. We grow impatient waiting for God to do something. When He doesn’t answer according to our requirements or based on our timeline, we give up and move on. But Isaiah said that we should remain persistent and patient. Keep praying. Don’t give up. Pray for God to do what He has promised to do. Prayer is NOT just about getting God to do something we want done. It is about asking God to do what He has already said He is going to do. It is about desiring to see God reveal His power and salvation in our lives. It is about wanting to see God display His power and presence in our lives. God reminds us, “It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!” (Isaiah 63:1b NLT). God alone has the power to save. God alone has the power to preserve. God alone has the power to bring salvation to His people. How badly do we want to see those things? How desperate are we to see God’s power and presence revealed in our lives and in our world?
Another part of prayer that gets overlooked is the praise factor. We tend to relegate prayer to asking God for things. We try to turn Him into a glorified Genie in a Bottle, a cosmic vending machine dispensing what we want and satisfying our every desire. But a big part of prayer is praise. It is acknowledging who God is and what He has already done. “I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love” (Isaiah 63:7 NLT). Sometimes in our zeal to ask God for more or demands to ask God to do something new, we forget to praise Him for what He has already done.
A big part of prayer is the motivation behind it. What drives us to prayer? What makes us turn to God and seek His help? Sometimes it is the sense of loneliness. We feel like He is nowhere to be found. We feel deserted and alone. In verses 11-13, the people of Israel repeatedly cry out, “Where is the one?” They want to know where God is and why He is not doing something about their situation. He doesn’t appear to be acting on their behalf like He did in the past. That sense of isolation drives them to plead for God’s presence. They call out to God, “Lord, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?” (Isaiah 63:15 NLT). They plead for God to see their circumstances and intervene. Sometimes it takes a sense of aloneness and impotence to get us to cry out to God. Our desperation causes us to become more dependent on Him.
How desperate are you to see God work in your life today? How dependent are you on the power and presence of God to make it through this life? Or are you satisfied with your situation and smugly self-sufficient in living your life on this planet? God wants to hear from you today. He wants to reveal His power in your life. He wants to show You just how powerful He is. Do you long to see His power on display? Are you willing to plead and persist until it happens? While you wait, are you willing to praise Him for what He has already done in your life? Pray – persistently, patiently, pleadingly, expectantly, and accompanied with praise.
Father, forgive me for my prayerlessness. I tend to pray when I need something or I have run out of other options. My prayers too often lack praise. I rarely plead and seldom persist. I too quickly run out of steam and patience. I can tend to be self-sufficient, trying to solve my problems in my own strength. I make prayer a lost resort rather than my first response. May I continue to learn that prayer is non-optional, and a vital part of my relationship with You. It needs to become as natural as breathing, as life-sustaining as oxygen or water. May I discover through prayer not just answers, but the God behind the answers. May my prayers make me aware of You and Your power. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men