ALWAYS AND ALL OVER
The Love of God
To God be the glory, we have a Loving Father. A loving father is trustworthy. I enjoyed a Pastor preached in a Faith named Church on the 2nd of April 2017. He didn’t minister in words only but also in power. He said, ‘‘when a person knows for sure that the father loves him such a person does not need to ask and ask again from the father.’’ In fact such a person should just ask and believe.’’ That pastor was very right. A beloved child, especially if lovable, does not need to pester the father to receive from the father. But there is another truth if we dig deeper into fatherhood, into father-son relationship. Let me explain that with Mr Beloved and Mr Leads as they relate with their father in the illustration below:
INT. SITTING ROOM. DAY
Beloved discusses with Father and leaves. Then Leads enters to talk to Father.
Beloved: Dad, I need a million naira.
Father: It’s alright son (he nods). You need it for that business you planned to start. I’ll give you (he smiles).
(Beloved goes out, Leads enters)
Leads: Dad, I need about 2 million naira.
Father: I will give you. (Father at this time is enjoying his favourite music. He does not even bother to look at Leads face). No problem son.
(The following night, in a sitting room)
Beloved: Leads won’t you go to sleep?
Leads: I need to see dad.
Beloved: For the money? You reminded him this morning. Don’t you trust dad. He said he’d give you. You know he will.
(Beloved goes into his room)
Father: (comes out from his room) Oh Leads, what’s wrong?
Leads: I need to talk to you…
Father: It’s about the money, right? You little troublesome Leads… I will give you tomorrow.
It is very possible for the father to get angry for being doubted or disturbed. Yes, that’s possible. But the sum is quite huge and the purpose is quite risky. Both sons have explained their plans to the father but Leads has shown more seriousness and the father has granted his request first.Of course Beloved is not forgotten and will never be. But at times the case of the pestering child might be settled while the case of the cool is pending.
That is the reason why Jesus who taught us not to think that it is by repetition that we will be heard (Mathew 6) also said men ought to always pray and not faint (Luke 18).
What I have done is not to rebut the Pastor’s statement on the Father’s love. I only want to extract generalisation out of it. There are situations and cases when a beloved needs to ask and ask again.
There is a level of faith and understanding or walk with God in God’s love that makes a Christian ask just once and act at once. David even while suffering the consequence of his sin prayed once against Ahitophel and acted on it with faith and as he prayed so it happened. Moses was still praying when the ground parted under Korah and others. Elijah was still praying when fire came down from heaven. Jesus only thanked God and called Lazarus forth at once.These people understood faith and God’s power and love and needed no repetition. But did Paul not understand this when he told us to pray without ceasing? He did.
I have enjoyed the love of God that I needed not to repeat myself on certain things, several times. In March 2017, I was bound to be a roommate to Biggi (not real name). Biggi had a friend who had a girlfriend. Let Biggi’s friend be Reed. Reed and his girlfriend always come to our room to enjoy romance, not sex and I am not discussing their bond now. They disturbed me always. And I wouldn’t fight any of them. In fact Reed once switched off the light and claimed he didn’t like it. I love reading or writing and praying but these lovers, not necessarily sinners, I knew, were stumbling blocks. And I wouldn’t fall for anger. So, one day, as I walked home I tried to pray about this issue. The prayer came in form of a song and I sang it with the mind that I was praying. Sing-pray may fit to explain that. I said or pray or sing-prayed (in Yoruba), ‘‘gbogbo idiwo a si yin nidi o…’’ That means that every hindrance is uprooted.’’ The following day and night and for two more days they were visiting us. I felt disturbed but not doubtful. That’s the last of the disturbance. Then I had my time and the chance to use it or enjoy it as I like. They still visit us sometimes but not disturb us. In fact both lovers had a heavy disagreement and reed stopped coming to meet Ruth (not real name). Ruth was our neighbour. I prayed again that I did not intend their separation. In fact I prayed that in my mind and the serious conflict between Reed and Ruth was easily settled. Now when Reed comes he would rather expend his time in Ruth’s room (Ruth was living with her elder sister, not alone). They just visit us without burdening me (for they wouldn’t in any way mean a burden to Biggi. I may discuss that later, necessarily. But I knew that just sing-praying was enough, no need to pester my loving Father, my God about it. But it is not all times on all cases that we ask just once and relax, waiting for automatic answers.
Whether we are home or away we must always pray
Father Abraham left home, he prayed
Isaac was in a strange land, he prayed
Jacob was away from home, he prayed,
Joseph was away, he prayed
Moses was away from home, he prayed,
David was away from home, he prayed.
Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Mordecai and many others were away and they prayed.
Prayer is always an Always, wherever we may be.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)
While we may desire to pray always it is not always in practice though it is practicable. The flesh is proud yet it is weak; it puffs up yet it fails. There are times I have tried to pray on my own, determined, to spend a very satisfying moment with my creator, my God and most attractive, My Father. To do this, after some failed attempt, in my own erroneous planning on ever-a-lie human sufficiency I always set a list of prayer points either in mind or on a sheet. It is usually so long a list that, as I thought, could make me spend hours in God’s presence or just in bare prayers. If there were hundred prayer points that should as I planned equal hundred minutes but I would have exhausted the list within ten or fifteen minutes. Then there will be nothing else to pray about and I may force myself to reach twenty minutes. I had tried to include other people in my list. For example, I had made a list of people with the believe that prayer points for each on the list would be up to five minutes and if they were twenty I would be able to spend a hundred minutes praying for others. After that I would pray for myself. That means I would have spent hours. But I would finish praying for all of them before its twenty minutes. Oh my God, my spirit was never satisfied. It was always longing for more of God. I became angry with myself; I wanted to improve; I kept trying, on my own; and my frustration upon my desperation increased. Oh what a pitiable state. Something was wrong. Something was missing and I couldn’t know what it was. Then it must be worse when it is known that prayer must be done always. If I spend just five minutes in prayer every time I set to pray that is not a crime, especially if I am a babe in Christ. But if I am growing in grace and if grace is enablement then I need to spend more time getting to and drawing from the depth of God’s riches in the Spirit.
Always an Always
“And he,” in Luke 18:1 “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought ALWAYS to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
It is important to emphasise that the core of this verse is the uninterruptedness of the act of praying. This is obvious in the story that followed this statement. The Lord, Jesus knew that this life is full of activities and distractions. He knew that as humans we can lose focus or get tired or discouraged at any time. So, he set before us a word, ‘always,’ and its biblical opposite, ‘faint’.This means we must never stop. If we stop we have fainted. In that sense, ‘always’ is the fact that we must possess strength.We must be strong. If we must pray always we must be strong. If we must be strong we must have a source of strength. That strength, however, is not in the flesh. So it becomes impossible for the one who lives according to the flesh to pray always. The flesh is always weak in anything spiritual. To study the word, to pray, to sing hymns, to sign or chant psalms, to worship God, to study manuals, to listen to messages that can help the spirit will always be burdensome to the flesh. Nevertheless, it is the standard, we are to pray always and not be weak. We must not faint. The moment that always is out of the act then there is faintness. At times faintness is a result of disappointment we get when we pray and do not get what we pray for. Is that not possible? It is.
I prayed for First Class Degree
Maybe it’s not necessary to pray on such a thing? It’s all about hard work? Yes, it’s necessary to pray on everything. No, being the best is not all about hard work. I was the best in my set in my department. I was hard working but many were more hard working. Wisdom is not just knowledge. When I was an undergraduate I prayed that I may graduate with First Class Degree. I started that prayer around September, 2011. That was the first semester, first year. I started prayingeven before lectures began. I wrote it down as prayer request in many gatherings and fellowships and churches whenever I had the chance. Oh my good Jesus! I never had a First Class Grade Points until the last (8th) semester. Friends and followers, (some, perhaps were mockers) calculated my CGPA in advance and told me sometimes in the third year that no magic could get me what I desired. They were right in their calculations. They had the facts. I, however, didn’t stop to pray for that till I graduated. It was impossible? I never gave up. I had the prayer point and I prayed it ALWAYS though I never got it. And I was not angry or mad against God. Rather, I praised Him for all grades in all semesters and for the grade I had in the last semester. I knew that the last semester’s was a message from God that what I always asked, starting from before resumption in the first year was not impossible or too difficult for Him to give me. And He is the author of my faith and the finisher of it. If I tried to say, “Sir, this particular scene in the script of my faith should be written this way?” and He, as the author, director, producer and finisher says NO, I will gladly agree with Him and live that which He wanted for me. I will always know that His will is the best, in fact, the only thing worthy of living for. That does not mean I have to stop praying on or for other things. I would not faint or doubt or just conclude that God fails. No! He never fails. It was I who failed to see what He had written and finished for me. That He is a finisher means sometimes, the end may be fixed regardless of prayers. He never told me to stop. Apostle Paul only stopped to ask that the thorn be taken away when he was told that God’s grace was sufficient for him. He would definitely have continued praying on that. God didn’t tell him to stop after the first time. In my case, He never told me to stop until I graduated in 2015. Glory be to God!
It is always Always
That was a direct example from the parable of a woman who was persistent on just one thing. But in the prayer that He taught us in Matthew 6, there are MANY things to pray about. The ‘MANY’ is included in the ‘ALWAYS’.
Pray until you receive.
When you receive, give thanks always.
Receive another; then thanks becomes greater a debt that can never be cleared.
So, the Apostle Paul told us that we must “Pray without ceasing” and“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes 5:17-18).
Pray always. Give thanks in everything- when prayer are answered, give thanks; when prayers are pending, give thanks; when prayers are half answered (in tangibility), give thanks; when prayers are unanswered, give thanks and be glad. Rejoice in the Lord always.“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).”
To be strong in the Lord, we must pray ALWAYS; give thanks (in everything) ALWAYS and rejoice (in the Lord) ALWAYS. It is always an Always. That is, it is always an act for all times. How is that possible? It is compulsory, as an evidence of the joy of salvation and the journeying in THE WAY of the Prince of Peace who says “MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU” that we ALWAYS do these three: pray, praise and rejoice. That ‘always’ in BBE translation was written thus: men were to go on making- prayer.
In ISV they are to pray all the time. In Amplified it is shown that men ought to always pray and not turn coward. That means to stop or halt praying is an act of cowardice- retreating or pulling back from the race, not necessarily a battle. I know and agree that Jesus had conquered for us. So if i say retreating many will say they are not even at any time on the battle field. I like such kind of faith. But Jesus had not run the race for us. We will need to run ourselves, carrying the cross, denying ourselves and following him. Praying, praising, rejoicing are part of that denial and following Him. We halt or stop in these three then we are turning back. I do not say we have turned back. But we are in danger of doing so if we neglect these three- always.
How can we ensure that the Always is an always? Actually, I found myself in an environment where on Friday even the road, the street will be used as a praying ground and security guards will stop vehicles. Then those who are not part of that religion must not be told not to walk around at such times. It was a place where places to pray are not common or near. But I prayed always. How?