Prayer: An Exercise in Futility or Resurrection Power?
“For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” I Corinthians 15:16-17
This is a very good week to evaluate whether or not you think prayer is an exercise in futility. What you think sometimes of your own experience with prayer may well be futility. Is it not at least one answer to why we do not pray with greater frequency and fervency? We frankly wonder if the time and the effort are worth it. Those of us who live in this culture are accustomed, so we think, to instant responses and answers. We have very little patience when such is not the case. Our minds are primarily, if not entirely, focused on physical realities we see and very little, if any, on spiritual realities which are just as real in us and everyone else. Simply because we refuse to see it doesn’t nullify the reality of the spiritual world or our spiritual problems. Our prayers encompass much more than the physical, and there is so much more to a comprehensive answer from God to our needs than an instant transformation conforming to our agenda or “fixed” ideas.
Jesus would never have taken the time to teach us something that is futile in changing the life we live. God is not playing games with us when He says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, Amen,” or anything that fits this true pattern for prayer, has as one of its purposes the removal of thoughts of futility when we pray or even consider praying.
It is as though we get to the end of a whole litany of requests for what we think we need; the confessing of our sins; the contemplation of evil in our world; the consideration of those who have offended us and done us wrong and forgiving them; the transformation we want in our spouse or children or others; the pressure on us of job and life and “things;” and we cap it all off with “but keep us from evil and the evil one.” Just the thought of it can be tiring, wearisome, and we think, “Will God do anything about this?” And then comes the conclusion, which is to say, “Of course He will…for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever!” To me it is like saying in your heart, “Hallelujah! You, my God, my Father…You, my Savior, my Lord… this is Your kingdom, Your power, Your glory! God do what You alone know is best for me and I will accept Your answers because I know You love me!” The conclusion should lift our spirit to the throne of grace. It should leave us encouraged.
An Easter hymn, that I first sang when living in Scotland in the 1970s, comes to my mind when I think of these concluding words to the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting on what we have prayed, how we have prayed, why we have prayed. The words concluding the Lord’s Prayer are much more concise, but this hymn captures the sentiment gloriously:
“Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won; angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away, kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.”
“Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb; lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom; let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing, for her Lord now liveth, death has lost her sting.”
“No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life; life is naught with out thee; aid us in our strife; make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love: bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.”
“Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.”
Easter is the antidote to futility! The power of the Resurrection is the answer to those futile feelings and thoughts that praying is not going to accomplish anything. This Good Friday and Easter Sunday please consider this: your prayers are not only NOT futile, they are the very means through which you will first see your victories. Your prayer life will be the very place where you will first understand that Jesus has made you more than a conqueror… over sin and everything that has previously been your stumbling block or destroyer. This Easter celebrate along with your Savior’s resurrection, the resurrection of your prayer life!
“Heavenly Father, transform my heart concerning prayer, and let me be like your Son, who always hungered to be in your presence through prayer. May I know the power of His resurrection in my prayer life.”
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