Last Sunday our teacher addressed the subject of "praying when God seems to sleep." Since this is no doubt something that a lot of people are interested in and experience in their faith walks, I thought I'd share what we learned.
First of all, the text was based on Psalm 44. This is considered a psalm of lament (verses 9-25), reflecting corporate confusion and disillusionment. Why haven't the "formulae" for getting God to act worked? What should our response be?
1. We need to remember and celebrate God's mighty deeds (verses 1-3). As God's covenant people, the Jews had much to draw on in their history with God. As His new covenant people, we remember the virgin birth, Christ's incarnation/ life/death/resurrection, Pentecost, the early church, mission movements, revivals, local works, etc.
2. We need to affirm that God can do His mighty deeds again (verses 4-8). Ephesians 3:20 says that God can do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."
3. We have to recognize that sometimes God lets us experience His absence and lets us fail (verses 9-16). God is the ultimate controller of history; He has His plans and sees the big picture. As finite humans, we cannot know what He knows and understands. We need to trust what He is doing. Ultimately, He will be glorified in and through all things.
4. We should understand that failure is not always evidence of disobedience. Think about Abraham, Job and Jesus, just for starters. On the surface it may have appeared that they failed, but ultimately God knew what He was up to. God was exalted through their stories and each one triumphed over circumstances.
5. We must keep praying, whether we understand or not. We should express our pain, disappointment, etc. and let God know how we feel. He knows anyway; nothing is hidden from Him. We should also acknowledge that God has the power to change our circumstances and situations. He wants us to come to Him and make requests. He desires conversation and relationship. He longs to give us good gifts, even when sometimes the packaging hides the beauty contained within. Ultimately, His love never fails.
Our church summer has been a series on prayer. How ironic that the day after we we wrapped it up, our pastor was taken to hospital and found to have suffered subdural bleeding between his skull and brain. A day or two later he underwent surgery and today he is in serious condition in a deep coma. Doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery and we pray with everything that is in us that this will be so. If you're a praying person, would you please join in? Pray for our pastor, his wife, daughters and son-in-law, that they would sense God's presence and peace. Pray for healing. And pray for those on staff who are having to take on larger roles and responsibilities during this time.