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Pointers along the way #58

Active prayer
- Jacob Ninan

We people have a strong tendency to want to pass the buck, as they say. One common way is to pass the blame, as in, "Why did you eat from this tree, Adam?" and "This woman Eve gave it to me, Lord." Another way, which is not so easily noticed, is in our prayer. We like to pray to the Lord, pass on the responsibility for our lives to Him, and then behave as if we have no further responsibility.

For example, we pray, "Make me patient, Lord." And the next morning when we get impatient we question the Lord by wondering why He didn't make us patient. After all, we think, we acknowledged our need to Him and trusted in Him to change our lives. Why didn't He do His part?

The reason is that we were just passing the buck to Him. He doesn't work that way with us. He wants us to grow up and become mature people. Of course He has the power to instantaneously make us patient people. But the way He actually works with us is to help us to grow in patience (2Pe.3:18). This is the reason why even asking godly people to pray over us does not change us overnight.

God works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Php.2:13). He gives us the desire and the willingness first. Then He also helps us by giving us ability to do His will.

Let us look at our prayer for patience. God first gives us an awareness of our lack of patience. We start praying for patience. The next time we begin to get impatient, He is there to make us alert and to remind us not to become impatient. He helps us as we 'struggle' to be patient. (This struggle is a part of our growth process. Don't confuse it with 'works.') Even if we fail to be fully patient we find that it was better than what it used to be.

If we seek for wisdom the Lord will show us why we become impatient, and how we can avoid that in the future. He trains us for this battle against impatience (Ps.144:1). And finally we become patient, through His grace, and in answer to our prayer. This type of prayer is an active, moment by moment, seeking after God, listening to Him and doing what He tells us.

We should not misunderstand "salvation by grace and not by works", and "casting all our cares upon Him", and end up becoming passive and irresponsible.