Monday is usually my day off when I try to get away and rest. By “get away,” I mean turning off my phone after answering early morning text messages. This last Monday, however, I received a slightly above average number of messages from members of the congregation. One concerned member mentioned about our church’s need to send out more full-time workers into the harvest field. Another expressed his concern about the looming economic recession in Singapore and around the world. And then, there were a few individuals, asking me to pray for their health concerns. To be sure, I welcome input from members. Admittedly, I felt a bit more overwhelmed that morning, particularly in view of the recent plunge in the stock market.
After all, the world is only beginning to reopen after drudging through a two-year pandemic. Then the war in Ukraine started in February, signalling a deepening geo-political divide and threatening global stability.
Through these experiences, I am more convinced of our need to pray more as an expression of our dependence on God, who alone can carry us through the storms of life. I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Matt 26:36-46. On the eve of Jesus’ death, even Peter, James, and John fell asleep when Jesus asked them to keep watch and pray. If Jesus’ inner circle had a hard time praying at such a crucial moment, it should not surprise us that many Christians today fail to pray in the way God intends us to pray.
Yet we know from the Bible that Jesus himself prayed fervently, persistently, sometimes all night long. Christ has taught us to pray like the man who repeatedly begged his sleepy neighbour for bread and did not stop until he eventually got some (Lu 5:5-8). Perhaps with the exception of Korean Christians who routinely prayed all night when we lived in Seoul, I have not witnessed any Christian, including myself, praying in such a fervent and urgent manner for a long time.
We, too, can have confidence to pray without ceasing because of Jesus’ promise to us: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened” (Lu 11:9-10). Let us approach God as spiritual paupers, begging for our daily bread.