By Henrylito D. Tacio
The world is in chaos. Whatever television network you are watching, newspaper or magazine you are reading, or radio station you are listening, you know we are in times of troubles.
Here in the Philippines, you get first hand information on food crisis, flashfloods, murders, kidnappings, rapes, accidents, and other tragedies. “Whatever is happening to our country today?” you may wonder. “What can we do to get out from this mess?”
The answer to that question is prayer for it is “the only hope for the Philippines,” to quote the words of Father James Reuter, S.J. “It’s time to gather God’s people on its knees to pray for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation,” explained the Ramon Magsaysay awardee.
“If we humble ourselves and pray as a people, God will heal our land,” he pointed out in a letter circulated via e-mail. “By God’s grace, we may yet see a better future for our children. God bless and God save our country!”
God Himself promises this. In II Chronicles 7:14, God said, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”
Today is the day that we have to pray. “I believe in the power of prayer,” said Dr. Gregorio T. Mariano, Jr. “Jesus Himself prayed and He taught His disciples to pray. God knows our needs, but we still need to ask as implied when Jesus said to Peter: ‘I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’” Check Mark 11:24 for that.
“Trouble and perplexity drive me to prayer and prayer drives away perplexity and trouble,” said Philip Melanchthen. This reminds of a story. A baby girl was recovering from pneumonia and her doctor insisted that she be fed one boiled egg every day. But the family could not afford to buy one. So one of the children said simply, “Well, let’s pray for an egg a day for a week and see what happens.”
So the family did, at breakfast that morning. At about 10 o’clock, the baby’s mother heard some crackling coming from the bushes surrounding the house. There under the branches sat a big chicken. She laid an egg, got up, and walked down the road out of sight.
That night, the family thanked the Lord for the surprise. But then, the next morning at about the same time, the chicken came back and cackled and laid an egg and walked away again. She did this again and again for exactly a week. By then, the little baby had recovered. So, the chicken also stopped coming, and they never ever saw the chicken again.
Whether you are in trouble or having a good time, don’t forget to pray. As Satchel Paige said, “Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.” B. Graham Dienert also observed, “Many people pray as if God were a big aspirin pill; they come only when they hurt.”
God answers our prayer in different manners. Robert Schuller explains, “When the request is not right, God says, ‘No!’ When you are not right, God says, ‘Grow!’ When the time is not right, God says, ‘Slow!’ When everything is right, God says, ‘Go!’”
The Greeks had stories about the way their gods answered people’s prayers. The answers, it seems, always had a barb or a catch in them somewhere. For instance, Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with a young mortal named Titonius. Zeus, the king of gods, offered her any gift that she might choose for her mortal lover. So Aurora asked that Titonius might live forever. Btu what she forgot to ask was: that her lover remains forever young.
So, Zeus did grant her prayer. Titonius lived on and on and on… and grew older and older and older. He could never die. As time went on, he became more and more of a burden to Aurora. Her gift from Zeus had turned into a curse.
When God answers prayers, it is different. Yes, He answers our prayer. But He does not always give us what we ask for. He knows better. William Culbertson pointed out, “Be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than your answers.”
But, oftentimes, we want our prayers to be answered immediately. “When God does not immediately respond to the cries of His children, it is because He wants to accomplish some gracious purpose in their lives,” a church pastor told me. “If you are waiting for an answer of some heartfelt petition, don’t become impatient. Commit the matter into the hands of your loving heavenly Father and trust His wisdom.”
“The trouble with our praying is, we just do it as a means of last resort,” said Will Rogers. But the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing — even when you have everything in life. O. Hallesby confides, “There are times when I have nothing more to tell God. If I were to continue to pray in words, I would have to repeat what I have already said. At such times it is wonderful to say to God, ‘May I be in Thy presence, Lord? I have nothing more to say to Thee, but I do love to be in Thy presence.’”
J. Arthur Rank is one of the great business leaders to come out from the United States. He has an elevator straight up to his office, but he does not use it. He prefers the stairs and he calls them his “prayer stairs.”
Every morning, as he walks up, he prays, asking God to guide him in every step he takes that day. As he takes each step separately and deliberately, he prays. He finally arrives at the top in more ways than one.
Today, and every day thereafter, don’t forget to pray. Martin Luther urges: “I have so much to do (today) that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
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