Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“Nevertheless, Let us Pray!”
I want to start with something funny. I heard about this pastor. He had been out bear hunting all day long. He searched and searched throughout the woods, but no signs of bears. Finally, in frustration, he threw his gun on the ground. He went down near the stream to cool off. About that time, he saw that a huge grizzly bear running forward towards him at full speed, about one hundred yards away. He fell down his knees and said, “God, I need protection. Please convert this bear into a Christian.” Miraculously, the bear seemed to be frozen in his tracks. He raised both of his paws toward heaven and says, “Thank you Lord for food I’m about to eat.”
I want to talk to you today about “prayer.” I guess all of you pray, whether in everyday life or on occasion. How often do you pray? Sometimes we forget to pray because we are busy or we have too many worries and concerns. Occasionally, we forget to pray because we are doing alright. Today, I want to say, “Nevertheless, let us pray.” If we are Christians, we should pray. Prayer is the breath of our Spirit. As if we don’t breathe, we shall die. If we do not pray, our Spirits shall die.
Genesis chapter 2:7 says, “God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” According to Genesis, before God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, we humans were just dust. After God gave us the breath of life, we became the living human. Therefore, what we pray is to receive the Spirit of life from God continually. Furthermore, to pray is to communicate with God and walking with God in everyday life. Therefore, one who prays in daily life looks vital, confident, strong, and bright. On the other hand, if we do not pray, we are like dust. Look at each of your family members. Do they look vital or like dust?
In today’s scripture, we see Jesus’ ministry in a day. Jesus went to Synagogue to teach people, healed a man who was possessed by the unclean Spirit. After that, he went to Simon’s house with his disciples and healed Simon’s mother-in-law. In the evening, Jesus healed many sick people with various diseases and cast out many demons. In his busy schedule, he never forgot to pray. As he mentioned his purpose to come, he wanted to proclaim the message at many places and to more people in his limited time. Nevertheless, he never forgot to pray. Verse 35 says, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Jesus used to pray in a deserted place early morning, and between his ministry, and occasionally elsewhere. He continually communicated with God during his public ministry. Even Jesus prayed in his life, how dare are we not to pray? How dare do we hope to live in peace without prayers?
We know Abraham as the ancestor of believers. He was the first person who God called after the new covenant of the rainbow. When God called him to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household, he left to the land where God showed him. He left for the new land, holding God’s promise without knowing where he would go. At every place he stopped to rest, he built an altar there to the Lord. Genesis 12:7-8 shows us how he built an altar sincerely everywhere he reached. “The Lord appeared to Abram [Abraham] and said, ‘To your offspring, I will give this land.’ So, he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there, he went the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Then Abram [Abraham] set out and continued toward the Negev.” Abraham also never forgot to pray and worship God during his journey to the Promised Land.
Sometimes we forget to pray because we are busy. Sometimes we forget to pray because we are doing well. Nevertheless, let us pray. Prayer is like an insurance of faith for us and our children, grandchildren, and descendants. If we do not pray, it is like we send our children and grandchildren to a jungle without any protective devices because there are lots of dangers, challenges, and temptations in the world.
I learned about the king of Israelite. His name was Solomon. You may know him as a king of wisdom and a king of blessings. I hope that you also know that he was a king of prayer. You may know about the reason God gave him wisdom. Solomon loved the Lord by walking according to his father the king David. Before he built the temple, Solomon went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices. After he offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar, at that night, God appeared to Solomon in his dream and asked, “ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon said, “Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; For who can govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9). So, God answered him, “Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you, and no one like you shall arise after you” (1Kings 3:12). Solomon’s wisdom was God’s answer to his prayers. After Solomon built a beautiful Temple, God also told him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple” (2 Chronicles 7:12). Without his prayers, he couldn’t be the king of wisdom and the king of blessings.
Here is another example. Daniel and three friends prayed all the time. Even when they were arrested in Babylon, and when the king proclaimed prohibition of prayer, they never stopped to pray. With persecution, the three friends were thrown into the blazing furnace. They said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from King’s hand” (Daniel 3:17-18). They added that even if God does not save them, they never worship other gods, which means they never stopped to worship and pray to God. Their faith and prayers led them to walk with God. In the furnace, the king found four people. He said, “Weren’t there three men, firmly tied, that fell into the fire? Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
God is with those who pray, whether in fire or in water. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because he didn’t stop praying. After the king prohibited praying, he prayed three times a day. Finally, he was thrown into the lion’s den. The king went back to his palace and spent the night without eating and entertainment and sleep because he loved Daniel. It means that the king prayed with fast for Daniel. At the first light of dawn, the king hurried to the lion’s den. He called Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?” (Daniel 6:18-19) Daniel’s prayer made the king of Babylon believe in God.
According to a Korean writer Yoon, there are 21 reasons for not praying. [21 reasons for not prayers by Sungho Yoon] Perhaps, we have more than 21 reasons we don’t pray. What is the reason you cannot pray? Isiah 40:30-31 says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Only those who hope in God can pray. Samuel said that “ceasing to pray” is to sin against God (1Samuel 12:23). The Apostle Paul said, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Without prayer, we can’t give thanks in all circumstances. Without prayer, we can’t be joyful always. Only prayer helps us to connect with God. Sometimes too many burdens, worries, and concerns block our prays. Sometimes happiness, peace, or even boring lives make us forget to pray. Nevertheless, let us pray always. Prayer is evidence that we walk with God. Thanks be to God. Amen!