Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Even the strong must pray . . .



Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)

Some have the idea that only weak people pray. Others might say that our power is nothing compared to the power of God, so comparatively, we are all weak.

In the last few months, deeper Bible study, greater spiritual battles, and the grace of God have revealed to me that only by the power of God do I take another breath. Weakness? Only pride makes me think I have any strength apart from Him.

Over the years, I’ve studied the story of Mary and Martha with various groups of women. Without exception, those who are servers and proud of it do not ‘get it.’ They don’t see that Jesus rebuked Martha for serving in her own strength and becoming frustrated because of it. She did not choose to draw strength from Jesus . . .

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38–42)

Mary sat at his feet. This wasn’t about who was the better servant, but about knowing the one thing that is needed to serve God: His power and not our own.

Relying on Jesus for everything, even for the things that could be done (or so I think) without Him, requires prayer. This cannot be token prayer, but a total dependence that even Jesus Himself demonstrated throughout His life. In the beginning of His ministry “when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying” to the end “Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 3:21–22 and 23:46) Jesus prayed to His Father about all things. Obviously this is not about weakness but about reliance.

Such reliance is vital. God even said, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5)

The psalmist tells us the same thing; “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4) and also says why we should do it, “The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.” (Psalm 28:8)

I cannot save myself so why trust myself at all? Yet reliance on God is not an automatic attitude. My sinful heart continually wants to go its own way. It is an idol-making factory that exalts other things above God, even my own self. I’ve had to learn that . . .

Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:12)

Prayer is how to express my need for the strength of the Lord. His Word reminds me that He alone is my Savior, lest I think I can “do this myself” and lest I put my own abilities in place of His. I can choose to be like Martha who headed to the kitchen without kneeling at His feet, or I can be like Mary who “choose the best part” by first spending time with Jesus and making Him the center of her trust. Whether she felt weak or not, she had learned what I must also learn.

The bottom line of everything I do is to: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10) Amen!

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