Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Lost cause prayers. . .

Though sometimes people say that even this or that is too much for God, the business of prayer is the speaking of lost causes in the Name of Jesus.  It is not magic but it is better than magic.  It is grace sufficient for all our needs and mercy greater than every need.  God is in the business of lost causes.  He lives to tackle the impossible.  That is the cornerstone of our prayers.

Jesus tells us of camels through the heads of needles, of those things impossible for man but easy stuff for God, and of promises that will not be forgotten.  Israel had long presumed, like Abraham before them, that God had forgotten or gotten too busy or never intended to keep His promises.  It is no wonder that Jesus became an inconvenient surprise to a people who grown too comfortable waiting for what they did not think was coming.

The challenge then, as now, is to believe that God not only hears our petitions for lost causes and impossible answers but acts upon them. A great book title once insisted Your God Is Too Small --a God made small not because He has limits but because we have limited Him.  Because we have no confidence in His power or inclination to do the impossible, we trust Him with but the trivial and easy.  But to look into our reflection in baptismal water or to taste the bread and cup of the Sacrament of the Altar is to look face to face at the impossible which comes to us with the promise of God attached to the ordinary element.  For those who have no sacraments, prayer must suffice but to those who know the sacramental grace of God, prayer flows from these impossible encounters with the Divine Goodness.

If our prayers do not work is it because we have prayed fervently trusting in the Lord's gracious favor to give answer or is it because we have not trusted Him with much at all.  If our prayers are weak and ineffective, could it be that our prayer life is too possible or shallow. Could it be that we ask for too little rather than too much?  The too little are the earthly things that fill the moment but have nothing of eternity.  We pray for the things that seem so urgent in the present but are yesterday forgotten.  They are foolish and petty prayers. Should we not rather pray for the impossible?  Is not the bold prayer life that which prays for things that are impossible, for that which is beyond our imagination and control?  When we pray for workers for the harvest or for the blind to see or the deaf to hear or the mute to sing or for our enemies to come to faith or to learn to forgive as we have been forgiven, these are the great prayers the test not simply our trust in God but reveal the true treasure of our hearts.0

Prayer is a privilege that compels us, as a people who live, love, and have life and breath because of power beyond ourselves, to pray with great expectation that those marked for death may live, those who know not hope may love, and those whose breath exhales their lives to know the life that death cannot touch.  If we are going to pray, let us dare to pray for the great causes, the seemingly lost causes, the impossible.  Let us dare to pray for salvation, for repentance, for healing of the broken heart, for restoration of the lost life, for forgiveness for the many sins, for us to forgive as we have been forgiven, and for the perfect rest and peace of the soul.  For whatever we pray thus in the name of Christ, God has promised to hear and answer.  If we believe anything of His Word, let us at least believe that He will hearken to such prayers and open the storehouse of His mercy and grace for their lost cause.

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