How many times have you, or someone you know, slowly given up on a resolution? The circumstances are usually the same in that one starts out energized and motivated, then as time goes by they begin to slow the pace, not apply themselves as diligently, and then eventually stop altogether. Has that ever happened to you? We have been talking about making the commitment to live our lives as God intended, remaining faithful, and being honest with ourselves to look for results, all the while illustrating these ideas by looking at the picture of someone making a resolution to get in physical shape.
Thinking about it this way, what is the best hope for someone trying to go to the gym and get in shape when they begin to tire of the routine and slowly lose their motivation? The easy answer is they need the services of a personal trainer who is willing to hold them accountable, adjust their workout routine, and encourage them to continue what they have started. However, the simple reason so many lose heart and slowly give up is that they simply don't take the step to ask for help from a trainer. In the life of the believer, who is it who plays the role of the personal trainer for us, the person we call on when we need help or advice, or encouragement? That's easy of course; it's God. Yet just like the individual on a workout routine, we need to ask in order to receive the help and motivation God can provide, and that is accomplished only one way; by prayer.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, Luke 18:1 NKJV
The word for "losing heart" in the Greek is ekkakeō, which translates; to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted. So turning this verse around, Jesus is saying that if we pray, we will not grow weary, get exhausted, and lose our spirit for serving Him. Prayer is our lifeline with God, and as such, we need to know everything we can about prayer in order to receive all that God intends for us. It is also interesting that the for word "always" (pantote) in this verse means "at all times" and not just occasionally when we want something. So I think the next step in our journey towards spiritual fitness is exploring the idea of prayer so we can find some principles or guidelines that will help us to pray effectively.
Now this may seem odd to you, but when I began to think about Jesus praying, my first thought was why did Jesus pray? Now that may sound funny, but look at it this way; if Jesus was God incarnate, with all the power of God within, why did He have to pray? Now I may be wrong, but it seems to me that it was the human half of Jesus who was in need and He knew that prayer was the only means to receive that which He needed. So let me share with you three things that came to mind when I looked at all the times that Jesus prayed.
Who do children run to? Their parents, of course. Who hasn't seen children for one reason or another running as fast as they can to one or both of their parents for one thing or another? As children of God, it should be natural for us to go to our heavenly father for any reason; to share a thought, an observation, to thank Him, and to ask for something we need. As a parent, would you be hurt if your child went to someone else, or never came to you for help or advise? I have shared before that I have three daughters, all of which have left home to pursue life on their own. Yet they all still call and talk to me, sharing what is going on in their lives, and even occasionally asking my advise on something just like they used to when they were young.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
1 John 3:1 NKJV
God is our father, and as children of God, it should be natural for us to go to Him before going or listening to anyone else. Do you?
Why do children run to their parents? They have needs. It could be a need for help, a need for support, or simply a need to share, but the important thing here is children know instinctively to go to their parents for what they need. I remember going to my parents knowing they were there for me and would help me in any way they could. I remember my daughters coming to me and the feeling I got knowing not only that they had come to me, but the feeling I got after I was able to give them what they needed. I think this is the essence of not only a parental relationship, but any other as well. It's the feeling you get knowing someone wants to come to you, and the satisfaction of being able to give them what they need. How many of us realize God is just waiting for us to come to Him and ask for help?
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. James 4:2 NKJV
God is there to answer our prayers. He waits and wants to give us what we need. Is He the one you run to first when you have needs, or is He the last?
When do children talk to their parents? Maybe a better question is when do they stop? One of the first lessons I learned as a parent was to listen patiently to everything my children had to say. Children want to share absolutely everything to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately though, I'm sure we all know or have experienced how children do eventually begin to get quieter as they grow older, and the need to talk seems to fade away. Is it possible your communication with God suffers that way? Prayer is how we communicate with our Father, and like any father, God wants and waits to hear from us. How anxious do you think I am to hear from my daughters? Do you think I wish they would call more often? Do I wish we could talk longer like we used to? How often do you think God feels that way about His children?
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
Is this Gods' answer to that question? God never tires from hearing from us, and obviously wants us to call. How often do you?
As believers, we have a father who not only loves us, but is always there for us. He wants nothing more than to listen and talk to us as well as help us with whatever we need. He wants us to talk to Him constantly, about absolutely anything, and not just occasionally when we want or need something. Prayer, constant communication with our Father, is where we get the motivation to keep working out our lives for Him. His promise to us is that we will not tire, will not faint, and will not lose heart if we pray without ceasing.
When we talk to our Heavenly Father, we should never hang up the phone.