Notes to Pigrims #2
Many people are too ashamed to admit it but they only ever turn to God when they perceive themselves to be in some kind of a desperate situation. Not so the authentic Christian. Real believers who consider themselves redeemed sinners understand that the best—and indeed the only time—to really run to God in prayer is when they are pushed into situations where they are completely helpless and desperate. The reason for this is because the Christian understands that his or her entire life rests completely upon God’s grace—the free, unmerited, unearned, goodness, and favor of a gracious God.
It could not be stressed enough that the Christian is a sinner saved by grace. Apart from God’s grace, the Christian is in utter and complete ruin, in the same lot as every other son or daughter of Adam. The Bible speaks of the fallen human condition as a state of spiritual death (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3). By default we are all miserably dead and damned, having been slain by sin and its kin. And whether we perceive it or not, we are unable to do anything to better our conditions, let alone do anything pleasing or acceptable before the Almighty. This is why God, in order that He might save a holy (i.e. set apart/unique) people to Himself, unconditionally decided to send Jesus into the world on a rescue mission. Jesus Christ broke into history and became a man—but not a sinner—just like us. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God, and died on a cross for the sins of the people He came to rescue. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21) By His perfect life, death, and resurrection, He graciously makes provision for spiritually dead sinners to be resurrected with Him through faith. (cf. Ephesians 2:4-9)
True Christians understand this and recognizes that their very lives are possible only by the grace of God. For this reason I say that Christians only pray to God when they are really desperate because they recognize that there is not a time in their lives when they are not. Thus Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Now before you puzzle over the impracticality of pausing every other minute to close your eyes to pray as you go about your day to day business, understand that prayer is first and foremost a communion with God—a journey, if you will. What this means is that prayer should not just be a formal time that you set aside to regularly do (though it certainly means this) but that prayer ought to be a posture that defines the whole course of the Christian life. So pepper your days with short informal heart-prayers and cast all your cares upon the Lord. Talk to Him and daily live coram Deo—in the presence of God. After all, it is His grace that enables you to do so.
The 19th century English preacher Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Long as they live must Christians pray, for only while they pray they live.” You and I are helpless and desperate apart from God’s grace, therefore let us daily live lives of prayer to God through Christ that He might graciously preserve and strengthen us for the journey He’s prepared before us. (cf. Ephesians 2:10)
—Pastor James (firstname.lastname@example.org)