Today’s readings.. (Nehemiah 1,2), (Hosea 12), (Colossians 3,4)

The wonder and reality of effective prayer confronts us in today’s readings.  Paul tells the Colossians to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving … pray also for us” [4 v.2,3] Paul is imprisoned, he asks them to “remember my chains” [v.18] A believer from Colossae is with him “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers”   And what is he praying for with such an earnest struggle?  The verse continues, “that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” [v.12]  Are there some we should utter such a prayer for?  There could be many!
How ‘alive’ with meaning are those words!  All prayer is made, or should be, conscience of the will of God – there are times when we implore God that it might be his will that something will – or will not – occur – or cease; that a ‘thorn in the flesh’ might be removed – or understanding given to appreciate God’s will in allowing it. (see 2 Cor. 12 v.7-10) . The prayer from the heart of a committed believer is made knowing that God has the oversight of their lives – and God sees that in the lives of “those who love God, all things work together for good” [Rom.8 v.28], that is for the good of God’s will and purpose, the ultimate example being the mortal life of our Lord.
Today we started reading the book of Nehemiah and it has heart stirring lessons for us. “O Lord” he prays “let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear (be in awe of) your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” [1 v.11] And who is this man? It is Artaxerxes, the king of Persia to whom Nehemiah is cupbearer.   Nehemiah has received distressing news about the state of things in Jerusalem and the king asks, “Why is your face so sad?” [2 v.2] He tells him why “… the place of my Father’s graves lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed …” [v.3] The king responds, “What are you requesting?”  How is Nehemiah to answer?  “So I prayed to the God of heaven” [v.4]  That was obviously an instant prayer! We are going to read the outcome of that prayer – and of the traumas and successes that follow in Nehemiah’s life.
We may well have challenging situations like that especially as this world threatens more and more to fall apart. Some of us could be confronted with awesome situations that cause us to “struggle” in prayer.  May we all practice more and more the intimacy and intensity of heart felt prayer to our Maker and Redeemer.

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