“How is your family doing?”
I ponder the question and wonder which version to give her. Does she really want to know?
With a half-smile, I tell her they are fine. We talk about my parents’ physical health and leave the conversation short, not going into any detail.
It’s difficult to tell which is more exhausting- the skill of developing a knack for small talk, or rehashing the omitted details.
The truth is too much for short conversation. The heart of the matter too intense. Sometimes brevity and pat answers seem easier, don’t they?
We are in a season defined by family. And our families define us too. We see picture-perfect poses of siblings and cousins on Facebook and some of them actually exude love through the screen. You can feel it.
But there is another emotion few people talk about during this time of year.
It’s a dull ache and a grief you can’t quite articulate. It’s a burden for someone you love. Someone you’re not sure will ever come home. And while their physical presence may be at the dinner table, their soul is somewhere you can’t quite reach.
You yearn for the words and the tools that will allow you to draw them to the truth.
If you don’t have one in your family, you know someone who does. They sit beside you at church, at the kids’ basketball game, and at the Christmas play.
They wonder if their loved one will ever break the chains of that addiction. Nights are spent wondering if he will surrender his life to the One who can make it new. They question whether he’ll ever see the Light that can penetrate the deepest darkness.
For the person with the burdened heart, coming home is a reminder that all isn’t well.
While the time and the absence away from family may have changed her, it hasn’t changed the one she loves.
Sometimes the enemy plants a seed of doubt and she questions. She wonders how many prayers it takes to change a life.
Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking through a valley and you’re losing hope. Can I take your hand and share a glimmer of light with you?
In the gospel of Luke, chapter 11 opens with Jesus praying. When he is finished, his disciples come to him and say, “Teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1 NIV
They don’t ask how to raise the dead or heal people. They don’t want to know how to obtain earthly wealth or skill. After all, they left everything they owned to follow him. No, they asked him for instruction in one thing: prayer.
Would it suffice to say they thought it was important?
In a following passage, Jesus tells an interesting story. A man has a visitor in town but nothing to feed him, so he bangs on his friend’s door in the middle of the night to ask for food. Not surprisingly, the friend doesn’t want to let him in.
It’s inconvenient. It’s late. He’s tired and cranky. But the man is persistent. He doesn’t give up, and eventually the friend lets him in and gives him food.
What we see as annoying, God sees as a determined, unwavering display of faith.
Not only that, he answers these types of requests. It is chorus of praise to his ears. He doesn’t get tired of hearing the same requests repeated over and over. On the contrary, he delights in it.
Jesus concludes the story by saying,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Luke 11:9 NIV
Persistent prayer shows immovable faith. Even though we don’t see the answer, we trust the God who does.
Can I ask you not to give up hope this season? If you’ve abandoned the altar of prayer, can I encourage you to come him again? I promise to join you in a renewed vigor to keep asking, to keep seeking, to keep believing in a God who can do all things.
Friend, when there is someone else’s will involved, our requests can seem complicated. They may even seem impossible. But we serve a God who will stop at nothing to reach a wayward soul.
He’s waiting for you to come to him. His Spirit lives to move and intercede.
Never stop asking him to.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1 NLT