Friday, July 27, 2018

Weak Faith Is Made Stronger by Prayer

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from the dread enemy.
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the scheming of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless; they shoot suddenly and without fear.
Psalm 64:1-4

Calvin said that "the voice is heard in prayer, proportionally to the earnestness and ardor which we feel." This, in my opinion, is a very un-Calvinist thing for him to have said. For how can I make God's response to my prayer depend on the way I feel at the time I pray? The ideal, certainly, is that I pray from the bottom of my heart, as it were—to pray with complete and sincere feeling. But there are times in my life when it takes a great act of faith to pray at all, when the weakest, most doubtful voice is almost more than I can muster. Am I then to say, "God won't hear my prayer, because my faith this day is far from perfect"? or even "Now that I need God the most, God will hear my prayer the least"? No, weak faith is made stronger by prayer, and God perfects my imperfection, especially in the area of prayer. This is, in fact, scriptural.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 
 Rom. 8:26-27

When I am under attack from all quarters, when bitter words are hurled like darts at me, even from people I had counted among my trusted friends (and there isn't a pastor alive who doesn't understand this feeling), then it is especially comforting to know that God will hear my voice—be it raised confidently or humbly, filled with faith or replete with doubt—and bring hope where there was fear, life where there was death.

When I do not feel like praying, Lord, help me then to pray. And when I cannot pray at all, may your Spirit, which searches my heart, pray on my behalf; in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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