When was the last time you told someone that you would keep them in your prayers? If you’re like me, you may do this very often. But when was the last time you actually stopped for a moment, amid your busy schedule, and prayed for them right then and there? Recently I spoke to someone on the telephone who asked to pray for me and I also prayed for them. We both stopped, took the time to pray that God would bless each other’s families and ministries. It only took a moment of our time, but what a blessing it was to join together in prayer to our Heavenly Father. The Bible says where two or three gather together in His name, there He will be in the midst. I know for certain that He was in our midst as we prayed that day. We didn’t just make a promise to pray later. We determined in our hearts to pray now.
Have you heard of Epaphras? While he is only mentioned three times in the Bible, he is truly what we would deem a prayer warrior. For his ministry was one of truly gigantic proportions because he knew the secret to touching God with his prayers. We don’t know much about him, other than the fact that we know he traveled with Paul as a fellow servant of Christ. Paul wrote concerning Epaphras, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12 NIV). Epaphras didn’t just tell someone he would pray for them. And he didn’t just pray once in a while. He prayed always. He was “always wrestling in prayer” (Colossians 4:12 NIV). Paul compares Epaphras’ prayer time to that of a wrestling match. Epaphras struggled and fought, making sure that every word uttered to Heaven counted. He knew the power of prayer and he knew that it required concentration, stamina, and strength, just as a wrestler would need inside the ring.
Sadly, it’s hard to find any Epaphras’ in the world today. For there are not many people who will set aside time every day for uninterrupted prayer time. While I certainly pray every day, I am also guilty of not setting aside enough time to pray each and every day. There are work and school schedules, church functions, meal times, and so many other things that must be attended to in our daily lives. But even in the midst of the hectic rat race we find ourselves in, one thing is clear: there is always time to pray. Through prayer, we can see our lives change for the better. Through prayer, our grief turns to joy, our tears turn to smiles, and our wayward loved ones can find their way home. You may have seen it on a bumper sticker, a bookmark, or a t-shirt, but I know firsthand that this motto rings true: Prayer truly does change things.
My parents prayed for me when I was born. The doctors gave up on me. My parents did not utter some complicated prayer out of a prayer book. They prayed, “Jesus help.” Jesus used these two words to change my life. He answered their prayer when they heard what sounded like a small kitten coughing. While it was a long road in the neonatal center, baby Jennifer finally got to come home. The doctors may have given up on me, but my mom and dad joined together in prayer. Two people were praying on my behalf, with Jesus Christ in their midst. And He heard their cries. I thank Him every day for giving me the opportunity to live. I know that I have a purpose on this earth and I take every chance I get to tell others about the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus Christ. He is the reason I am alive today. And I am living proof that He answers prayers!
But even though we know that He answers prayer, it seems it’s hard to find time to follow the advice given in the book of Hebrews that tells us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). We may spend hours at ball games, watch numerous television shows, and ride in our cars for long periods of time, yet the majority of us cannot give even 15 minutes, half an hour, or an hour to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even Jesus had a difficult time convincing His disciples to pray for an hour with Him shortly before He was to be crucified. The Bible says, Jesus “returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’” (Matthew 26:40 NIV). He went away to pray two more times and each time, came back to find that their eyes were heavy and that they had fallen asleep. Jesus tells His disciples, “‘“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Matthew 26:41 NIV).
When I read this passage, I am reminded of the exercise bike that I purchased a while back. I thought it would motivate me to exercise, having it sit in my living room. I always plan to ride it in the evening while watching television. I have “good” intentions. While I plan to ride it, I always find an excuse: I’m too tired; I’ll ride it tomorrow, and many others. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. In the meantime, I am gaining no benefit from the exercise bike other than the effort it takes to dust it off, since it rarely gets used. In a similar way, Jesus is telling us that we may have good intentions to pray, but “life” gets in the way. Our earthly bodies become tired, too stressed, or complacent. Yet a life without prayer is one that can lead to temptation, as Jesus warns us. Prayer is the key that keeps us closer to Jesus and further away from evil.
No matter where you are in your life right now, Jesus loves you. He wants you to talk to Him, just like you talk to your family and friends. There is no need for an eloquent prayer. Just share your heart with Him today. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for help. Whether you are driving down the road, standing in the shower, running on the treadmill, cooking dinner for your family, going to work, or an infinite number of other things you may be doing, you can always pray. Maybe you’re sitting there, thinking, “I’m not good enough to pray. Jennifer just doesn’t understand. I’m a sinner and I know that Jesus would never want to hear from me.” Let me assure you, friends, Jesus Christ loves you and me unconditionally. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. Jesus Christ died on a cross so that we could have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life through Him. We are all sinners, but through the grace of God, our sins have been washed away. Don’t wait to pray to Jesus tomorrow or the next day, for it may be too late. Stop what you’re doing, call on Jesus Christ and pray now!
In Christ’s Love,