November 22, 2013
“For Emergency Use Only”
By Skip Heitzig
As human beings, we tend to be self-sufficient: “I can handle this. I can figure it out.” It's just our nature, and it can be a good thing. But it can become a bad thing, because a lot of times we are so self-sufficient that we don't really think we need God. Of course, we wouldn't say that. But we effectively demonstrate it by how we live.
That is, until something bad happens and life spins out of control. A loved one dies. We lose our job. A war breaks out. When catastrophe happens, we get shaken, and in a moment we recognize, “I'm inadequate. I need something greater than myself. I need to depend upon God.”
After the first Gulf War in 1991, church attendance in America grew, and it was huge! For a time, 44% of the adult population in America filled the churches, the highest numbers in 25 years. The Gallup Organization reported that 57% of Americans said they were praying twice a day with great intensity. Of course, it didn’t stay that way. People slipped back into self-sufficiency. Then 9/11 hit, and it was the same thing: Churches swelled, and people got serious about God.
I think this phenomenon happens because we have the wrong view of prayer. We put it into a category called “For Emergency Use Only.” “I can pull it out when I need it. It's my emergency parachute.”
But contrast that with Jesus’ view of prayer. Luke 22:39 tells us it was His custom to pray regularly. In Mark 1:35, we are told that Jesus got up early in the morning, before it was even daylight and “went to a solitary place and there he prayed.” Mark 6:46: “And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Luke 6:12: “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” That's Jesus being dependent on His Father.
The disciples observed that. They saw that Jesus, though He was God in a body, prayed a lot. They saw Him cure diseases, give sight to the blind, walk on the water, and raise the dead back to life. And they saw that despite the pressure in His life—the crowds that were always around Him and the demands they placed on Him—Jesus was calm, steady, and purposeful. He was powerful and effective because He was filled with direction from His Father. So they requested, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They were saying, “Teach us to do what you do.”
Here’s my point: If Jesus, in His earthly life, needed prayer, how much more do we need it? Jesus always saw His need and His dependence upon the Father. How can we think of ourselves as more self-sufficient than Jesus? We need prayer! It’s not “For Emergency Use Only”!
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