FROM NECESSITY TO CONVENIENCE
A group of about two hundred people gathered in the city square of Kharkov, Ukraine in March of 2014. A call to prayer had been issued by the church leaders as religious freedoms were being threatened. One leader said, “This is the generation of the children whose fathers will killed for their faith, whose fathers spent most of their time in prison for their faith. We knew the real face of Communism, and it was trying to come back. We were standing on our knees, and we said, ‘Lord, we don’t know what to do. Our eyes are on you, Lord.’ The only hope was on the Lord” (Pastor V, a Baptist pastor and one of the leading organizers of the prayer meeting). Since the takeover by the separatists, the evangelical church has been under increased pressure to close church doors and cancel prayer meetings. This is why Ukrainians continue to gather for prayer every day, on their knees, regardless of the weather. “At this point, I’d be afraid not to pray,” said pastor V. “We know what’s at stake.” (excerpts from an article entitled, “Standing On Our Knees” by Nicole Leigh, https://www.imb.org/2019/09/25/standing-on-our-knees-2/)
Why is it that we, who enjoy such precious freedom to pray and worship, so often exhibit a lethargic and anemic prayer life? And all the while, people who live in lands that are hostile to the Christian faith display such a vibrant life in prayer. You and I both know the answer. For us, prayer has become a convenience and a luxury that we often consider to be optional spiritual discipline (Except when we are in crisis. Then we expect – even demand - the Lord to meet with us and answer us with speed). But for those who live under godless tyranny and religious oppression, prayer is rarely ever seen as a convenience, but it is viewed as a necessity and a privilege. The truth is, we need the Lord and His mercies every moment of every day. When we are aware of this need, we respond to the pleasant voice of our gracious Lord who calls to us, saying, “Come to me and spend time with Me!” When our ears are attentive to this heavenly invitation, we are brought to our knees in thanksgiving, praise, and petition. But, when we falsely believe that we have everything we need apart from God, His call for us to meet and commune with Him in prayer becomes only a faint whisper that is hard to detect on our spiritual “sound level meter.”
If we want to see our prayer life vibrant once again as individuals and as a church family, I believe the key is to reject the false claims of materialism/worldliness that promises to meet our every desire and return to the One who can and will meet our every need. God not only commands us to pray, but also delights in fellowshipping with us in prayer, because He is a loving Father who knows that we are utterly dependent on Him – 24/7/365/00. May our God of Grace help us to more fully know and embrace the fact of our dependence and may that lead us to a deeper and richer prayer life.
In God’s Glory,