When You Don’t Know How to Pray

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick.
He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
(This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one
who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’”
John 11:1-3 (NIV)

We all have times in life when we do not know what to ask the Lord to do for us. The situation can be any confusing, so our minds are clouded or the pain we feel blurs our sight. Whatever the reason, we pour out our hearts in prayer and look to our sovereign God for help whatever that help might be. In our verses for today we see Mary and Martha in just such a dilemma.

Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany near Jerusalem. Apparently, Lazarus was a man of means. When Jesus was in and around Jerusalem He and the apostles were generously hosted by Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

The sisters certainly loved their brother and feared they might lose him if help was not forthcoming. They learned where the Master was and sent an urgent message to Him. It was an unusual prayer because it did not ask for anything. The message was a simple statement of a fact.

When life overwhelms us, we may find ourselves unsure of what to ask for and so we are in the same situation as Mary and Martha. Stating the problem is one way of speaking to our sovereign God. Habakkuk 1:1-4 is another prayer where the child of God does not ask for anything specific but makes clear the problem facing the Lord’s servant.

The grieving sisters statement included an interesting fact. They worded the prayer without mention of their brother’s name. Instead, they spoke of Jesus’ love for their brother. This is a good thing to keep in mind when we pray for ourselves or those we love. Remind the Lord of who it is we are praying for. Daniel does this in chapter 9 near the end of his prayer several times to good effect. Remind the Lord that you are His child, His chosen one, tell Him you are praying for His child whom you both love.

Have you arrived at such a place in life? Do you wonder what to ask for? If you wish for relief from your troubles, then pray to the Lord for deliverance, that is perfectly acceptable. If you know that most of the Lord’s people facing similar challenges are left in their misery you might pray for endurance to live a faithful life regardless of the answer that will be given.

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” and he had 3 sessions of prayer for healing. The thorn remained and he then learned of God’s amazing grace. The point is that we are free to ask for relief from the difficulty knowing that we may receive grace to endure instead.

Are you prepared to accept your loving heavenly Father’s will in your time of trouble? Will you pray for a change in submission to your Father’s will? He has loved you with an everlasting love. He will never leave nor forsake you. Come to Him and come now.

Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His, and He is mine.

Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms
Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,
Pillowed on the loving breast.
Oh, to lie forever here,
Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear,
I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His:
Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
Christ can fill the loving heart.
Heaven and earth may fade and flee,
Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But, while God and I shall be,
I am His, and He is mine.

– G. W. Robinson

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