Have you ever been guilty of prayerless praying? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself “praying” through a prayer list, and yet hardly paying attention to what I am saying. I’m sure it doesn’t honor the Lord, and I have a strong sense that I am wasting my time. And then I read this verse, and my suspicions are confirmed by the opposite example of the Lord Jesus:
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Hebrews 5:7 (ESV)
The context seems to be Jesus praying as our ultimate High Priest from the cross, and He is calling out with “loud cries and tears.” So I find it encouraging that when Jesus prayed, He PRAYED. He meant for His prayers to be heard by His Father, and He prayed as if He meant it. As pastor and author, Dr. Joel Beeke puts it, “in His praying…He prayed.”
Beeke said, “Our greatest problem is not that we don’t pray. It is that we seldom pray in our prayers. Truly, prayerfully, pray. Private, prayerful, praying – that’s what we need…There is nothing so essential, and so neglected as private, prayerful, praying.”
Beeke first heard the phrase “prayerful praying from his father”, and there is apparently a textual variant in James 5:17 which says that Elijah “prayed in his praying.”
Isaiah seemed to understand this issue when he wrote:
There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. (Isa 64:7 ESV)
This is what we are called to do – to rouse ourselves to take hold of God. And I need to do it, oh how I need to do it. I can be so lethargic in my praying, but I need to wake myself up and remind myself that there is a all-loving, Almighty God hearing my words, and He wants me to pray as if He is listening.
It is the way that God the Son prayed, and as a result, God the Father answered, and He will answer us as well.
If you’ve got some time, click on this link and listen to Joel Beeke tell all about the problem and solution to prayerless praying:
For tomorrow, Wednesday, September 23rd: Hebrews 6