Three Responses to Prayer

When I was a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, fresh out of Officer Training School, I learned to respond to my superior officers with one of three phrases whenever they addressed me:

Yes Sir!” “No Sir!” “No excuse, Sir!

 

Those days of being a G. I. are long gone. I traded dog tags for diaper bags way back when. But I’m still faced with three responses to God’s commands: “Yes, Lord!” “No, Lord!” “No excuse, Lord!

Recently, I had no excuse.

We sat on the edge of the bed, her and me. We talked about the importance of prayer and the book she was reading on that subject.

As I scanned the synopsis on the book jacket, she shared her desire and need to pray more often, be more persistent.

We discussed prayer. Does prayer make a difference?

We discussed scripture about prayer.

We prayed over our meals. We bowed our heads in prayer during church. Can’t speak for her, but I silently voiced hasty, self-absorbed prayers.

But that weekend, we never prayed together for the issues that weighed heavily on both our hearts. Even when tension escalated and the need was great…prayer was absent.Praying Hands

No prayer? No power. No victory.

No Excuse.

Would there have been a different outcome, a different attitude and response toward our circumstances if we’d made prayer a priority instead of a subject for discussion?

 

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed….

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly….

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” (Luke 22:39-46)  

Exhausted from sorrow? Sounds like a good excuse to me, but Jesus didn’t want excuses. He wanted them to get up and pray. He wanted them to respond, “Yes, Lord!”

After Jesus prayed, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”  

Earnest prayer didn’t change the outcome, but it enabled Jesus to accept God’s will and obey Him even to the point of death on a cross.

If the disciples had prayed that night, would they have run away and forsaken Jesus when he was arrested?

If the Apostle Peter had prayed that night, would he have denied knowing Christ three times before the cock crowed?

 

“Devote yourselves to prayer….” (Colossians 4:2)

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“Pray to the Father…that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:16)

And every day, I either respond:

“Yes, Lord!” “No, Lord!” “No excuse, Lord!” 

Even in this……

My Space

     The young girl within me giggled when I walked into the hotel room. It was immaculate. And there was a king-size bed just for me.  I plopped down on the pillow-top mattress.

I can watch whatever on television. I can stay up late reading. I can eat crackers in bed…it’s all my space.

Odd those ten hours of space would trigger my emotions.

I remember being a child on family vacations. Long hours driving down the highway in our Ford station wagon. My younger brother stretches out on the back bench seat, his feet crossing the imaginary line we agreed upon.

“Mommm, tell R…to get on his own side!”

As a teenager, if little brother walked into my bedroom uninvited,“Mom, tell R… to get out of my room!”

In my twenties, two spaces became one. Not only did I have to share my personal space, so did the groom. After the honeymoon, I had to ask, “Honey, may I have some closet space for my clothes?”

Then the children arrived and there was no space. They thought nothing of knocking on my bathroom door.

“Mommy!”

“Can’t it wait?”

“Tell J….to leave me alone.”

Now that two of our children are grown, I have more space. But some days I want it all to myself. Don’t ask me why. I only know, for one night I had my space. And it was good.

Then came self-imposed guilt.

I thought of the excellent wife described in Proverbs 31. According to verses 15 and 18, she didn’t have any space. The woman “gets up while it is still dark, and her lamp does not go out at night.”

Then again, perhaps we aren’t so different. Many a day, I rose while it was “still dark” to feed my babies and rock them back to sleep. Plenty of “nights” I stayed awake to stroke my children’s feverish brows.

As on-call wife and mom, I carved my space out of early mornings and midnight hours. Then I learned to share that space with God.

How can a woman be a good steward, serve her family, and minister to the needy without enough space?

The same way Jesus handled the masses and moments of each day.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

Need space? Rise early while it’s still dark, and pray…

Even in this season of life.

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