Prayer: Has It Come To That?

A story is told of a young husband whose wife was gravely ill with cancer. It was, in fact, in its final stages. As he was waiting nervously in the hospital waiting room to hear the doctor’s prognosis, the door slowly opened and the physician said these words: “I’m so very sorry. We’ve done all that we can medically. All you can do now is pray.” To that the young husband replied, “Has it come to that?”

Unfortunately, that’s how many people sometimes think about prayer. It’s used as a last resort. Of course God can, and sometimes does, hear and answer those prayers, but it would seem so much more important to pray first. Pray at the beginning of your day. Pray throughout your day. Pray when things are going well. Pray if things take a turn for the worse. In fact, the Apostle Paul said it this way, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). In other words, God wants us to pray to Him.

So what is prayer anyway? It’s simply communicating with God. It’s sharing what’s on our hearts with Him. It includes praising Him, confessing our sins to Him, thanking Him for his blessings, and asking Him for help in the situations we face each day. But, it’s not treating God like a genie who just gives us everything we want, when we want it. It’s reverently, humbly and expectantly bringing our concerns, needs and praises before Him. 

Some may be asking, “Why should we pray?” We pray because of who we are. We are human beings who have needs, struggles, fears and hurts in our lives. We are not all powerful and all wise. We are in need of God’s help and guidance. We can’t handle life all on our own as some seem to think. We also pray because of who God is: He is more than able to help us in our time of need and loves to help those who come to him humbly and sincerely. His grace is more than sufficient to meet our every need.

Another question which you might have is this: “How does one pray?” For some it might be by closing your eyes, bowing your head and just simply talking to God. Some like to pray on their knees, or maybe sitting in a comfortable chair. Others like to talk with God while they’re walking out in nature, or driving in their car.

You can pray out loud, or quietly in your own heart. Sometimes we may just need to be still and quiet before Him. Some like to sing their prayers using hymns or gospel songs. Others like to write out their prayers or use prayers that others have written. You can also use Scripture passages, like in the psalms. Some of which are already in the form of a prayer. The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:8-13, is used by many people to help them express their hearts to God. Whatever way works best for you is the key. And as you pray from your heart, know that the Lord delights in hearing from you whenever you do.

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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