“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
–Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
I enjoy a good pioneer story now and then. These stories are definitely entertaining, but we can learn lessons from them too.
I think you would have to agree that living in such a soft and comfort-based culture makes it almost impossible to imagine the hardships which our forefathers endured. But this same backbone can be applied to our prayer life, by praying through.
“Praying through” is a term you don’t hear much anymore, but one which needs to be revived among believers. As a fellow student of prayer, I have been asking God to teach me more about this. While I realize that learning to pray like this is a lifelong pursuit, I know that God will help me strengthen my resolve through daily study and meditation on His Word.
While we can never learn enough about prayer from the Bible, we can zero in on certain aspects of prayer. For example, the Psalms provide a good starting place as we hear David crying out to God. Or you might examine the prayer life of Jesus, as He modeled it both in word and deed. Next, you might look at the apostles and see how they prayed the scriptures through in the early church. I hope you will work on applying that tried-and-true technique to your life.
Finally, other figures in church history helped blaze the prayer trail, including the person we will be discussing today. I encourage you to study these people more exhaustively on your own by reading some outstanding biographies. They show how lives were shaped by prayer, and they tell of the great pioneers who stormed heaven’s gates. If nothing else, their lives point to the fact that we serve an amazing and faithful God, who shows us all how the impossible can become possible through prayer alone.
These men and women trusted God without any help from newsletters or websites–a fact which amazes me. I am not suggesting that we discard modern technology, which is wonderful in its proper place. But I can say without apology that when Google comes first, and God is the last resort, our focus is definitely in the wrong place. We need to ask God to change our hearts, instead of putting all our eggs in the high-tech basket.
Instead of relegating Christian pioneer stories to the closet of antiquity any longer, let’s take a quick look at one of my favorites. George Muller and his wife fed thousands of abandoned orphans by depending on God for each meal. One day they ran out of food, and their fervent prayers seemed to go unanswered.
Even though there was nothing to eat in the house, the orphans sat down at their bare table and gave thanks to God for their breakfast. As the Mullers and their charges finished praying, they heard a knock at the door. It was the baker, with fresh bread for everyone! As if that weren’t enough, the milkman’s cart broke down in front of the orphanage moments later. He didn’t want all his fresh milk to go to waste, so he gave it to the Mullers and the orphans.
After reflecting upon this scenario, here’s what I have learned:
Since the children in the Mullers’ care would have been outcasts of society, they learned to do whatever they thought it took to survive. Many of them had formerly lived on the streets, and stealing food had become their lifestyle. It would have been no small task for George Muller to teach them about waiting on God while they sat at their empty table.
Now let’s apply what we have learned, and really think about the enormity of it. Take a moment to ask yourself this question: What does this story tell you here in the 21st century? With everything pretty much at our fingertips, we have to confess that a lifestyle like that of Muller seems next to impossible if we try to pursue it on our own. Thankfully, I am not alone, and neither are you. We can draw upon the same power that Muller experienced.
The Bible says that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Since that power is channeled through the pipeline of prayer, you and I can ask God to open our eyes as we travel on the roller coaster of life. We need to consult His Word, and ask God what He is trying to teach us in every situation.
This story also reminds us that God sometimes works at the eleventh hour. Many times, just when we are wringing our hands and about to give up, God will finally come through.
Waiting on God can be a hard pill to swallow, because waiting calls for patience. Our forefathers definitely had to be patient in many ways. They had to travel in covered wagons from place to place, and these trips sometimes took months. Instead of covered wagons, we now have the capacity to reach speeds of up to 600 miles per hour.
The way God can answer prayers points to the need for patience, which we often see as a venomous snake. Coiled up, it seems to hide behind the rocks of life, ready to spring if we pray the wrong words.
Friends, this is not biblical prayer, but superstition. So while I am probably the guru of impatience (especially around dinnertime), I am trying to curb this tendency. I will leave well enough alone, however, since I don’t think my wife buys that excuse.
It is not easy, but I am trying to learn to welcome patience as a friend, for it leads to wisdom. If we all do the same thing, and try to think of our disappointments as appointments being filtered through the hand of a loving God, it brings a new perspective to life. While our days on Earth are short, God’s mercies are new every morning, and He is the ultimate pioneer of prayer.
So whatever we may go through in life, we can celebrate the fact that He stands beside us, as we learn to walk an old trail in a modern era.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.