If you’re a Christian, more than once you’ve likely heard, or thought, of prayer as the opposite of work.
God have mercy!
For prayer is surely some of the hardest work done on this planet. And we all know it. Perhaps we have just momentarily forgotten the fact.
- Ever pray when your body was weary, your eyes were heavy, and there were a thousand things crying for your attention? Then you know prayer requires real effort.
- Ever pray while you were so burdened with your own shortcomings, failures, and sins that your prayers seemed empty or meaningless? Then you truly exerted yourself.
- Ever pray when the words simply would not come, no matter how hard you tried? Then you knew the industry of prayer.
- Ever kept talking to God when he seemed silent and non-responsive when it was your loved one who was gravely ill or in danger? That was truly hard labor.
Still not persuaded? Then try telling Jesus, the one in whose name you pray, that prayer isn’t work.
- Tell him as you recall him daily getting up before others did to walk to a quiet place to pray. This was not done without deliberate, disciplined effort.
- Tell him as you see him sweating blood in prayer in Gethsemane’s Garden. This was not done without a workman’s pirit of love, determination, and grit.
- Tell him as you overhear him pray the most difficult of prayers – praying forgiveness for one’s enemies – with labored breath on his cross. This was not done without years of toil and testing in the field ahead of time for that very moment.
- Tell him as your grasp the fact he intercedes for you still. This is far from “nothing;” more like the most precious of “something.”
So shout it from the rooftop: prayer, rightly done, is difficult, daily labor. And perhaps that’s why more prayers are not offered – because it is w-o-r-k!
After all, it is not an effortless thing just to try to wrap our head around the idea that the Most High Holy One works at listening to us. And what are we? Dust. But surely the vainest of things is to work in his name without praying, for what are our efforts without the work of the Lord mingled with them?
Prayer is work; make no mistake about it. And make not the mistake of not working at it.