A friend is very ill today. I pray that God will touch his body and heal him, but if that is not God’s will, I pray for a sweet and peaceful home going. This man has been a lifelong student and teacher of the Word, and I can imagine Jesus standing at Heaven’s gate eagerly waiting for him. But standing on earth is a wife, family, and friends who don’t want to lose him. I am praying for his wife, his sweetheart, and his partner in life. I understand the anguish she is feeling because I was at a similar place five years ago. And I pray for his family…his siblings, children, and grandchildren.
I hope you will pray for this man (God knows his name), but I’m not writing to talk specifically about him. I want to talk about the mighty power of prayer and the privilege we have to partner with God by means of prayer. When Jerry was sick, our family experienced first hand the power of prayer. Five years later, we are still running into strangers who heard about his illness and prayed for him. I know that God in His great wisdom does not always say, “yes” to our prayers, but I’m so grateful that He allowed us to keep Jerry a while longer. I also know that each of us has an appointment with death, and that our life on earth is like a vapor. God’s “no” is no less loving that His “yes.”
After Jerry recovered, I wanted to learn more about prayer, and I learned a new word: importunate. Importunate prayers are the prayers that please God. They are the prayers that plead and beg God for a request to be granted. They are the prayers that pound on Heaven’s door, and will not give up. The illustration that is used most frequently used to describe importunate prayers is the story in Luke 18 of the unjust judge and the persistent widow. This woman just would not give up! The judge finally granted her petition because he was tired of dealing with her. He was annoyed by her pleas. But God is not annoyed by importunity; He is moved by it. Importunity is Jacob wrestling all night with God. It is Daniel, fasting and praying, in sackcloth and ashes. It is Jesus in Gethsemane. All through the Old Testament and into the New, we see people of God begging and pleading with Him. John R. Rice says, “There are some blessings that a Christian will never have without pleading, importunate waiting on God!”
Today is Good Friday, an appropriate day for us to think about prayer. Because on this day, God gave all believers access to the throne of Heaven. The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom. Before this day, only the high priest could enter the holy place, and he could only do it once a year. That veil was a constant reminder that sinful man could not enter into the presence of Holy God. But now, because of Christ’s sacrifice, we believers can go directly to God with our prayers, any time we want. And even more wonderful, because of Christ’s death, the Holy Spirit now dwells in us. Emmanuel. God with us.
What a privilege is prayer. My hope is we will all take time on this holy day to partake of this great gift.