Will Prayer Always Be The Last Resort?

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12 NIV)

A Yellowstone Park Ranger herded his group of hikers toward the fire lookout tower. They almost didn’t make it alive.

Along the trail, the Ranger got so caught up in telling about Yellowstone’s unique wonders that he switched off the two-way radio on his belt; the squawking and crackling distracted from his lecture.

But as they came within sight of the fire tower, a breathless park employee ran toward the group: “Grizzly bear! We’ve been up in the tower, watching him stalk you … we tried to call you on the radio … what’s wrong with your radio?!”

The moral of the story? Things get dangerous when you stop listening, especially when you stop listening to God.

Have you ever done that? Ever gone off making decisions without listening, without asking God’s advice, and then regretted it later? I have.

Have you ever set your course (“Here’s my plan, God … now please bless it”) and then pulled your hair out trying to bail out a sinking project that didn’t have Divine backing? You and I both know you have … so have I.

What’s wrong with that approach? It’s pre-packaged disaster, that’s all. That’s why Jesus never conducted ministry that way. Notice how he kept contact with his Father, especially when fork-in-the-road decisions had to be made:

About the middle of Jesus’ second ministry year, he started getting hateful opposition to his work. Because he claimed to forgive sins, and because he healed people on the Sabbath, his enemies decided to have him killed.

On top of that, he had another dilemma. Since his days on earth were numbered, someone would have to inherit his ministry. He would leave earth and leave his work behind … in human hands!

The gospel would have to be preached by flawed, finite, corrupt people… people without much experience at being Jesus. Which onJesusFacees should he choose? And how would they ever get enough training and spiritual knowledge to do a decent job of replacing Christ!?

Packing these two hot issues (First, how to handle Satan’s plot to murder him and Second, whom should he choose to inherit this ministry) Jesus climbed the mountainside to pray.

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12 NIV)

Be careful. We’re standing on holy ground. We’re witnessing something of the Divine mystery.

The Only Begotten Son of God. The Alpha and Omega. The Holy One of Israel. The Lion of Judah. The Prince of Peace. The Word, who was with God and was God. He is praying. He asks for his Father’s help. They converse all night long.

The next morning Jesus chose the Twelve.

Do you realize that the leadership plan of the church itself emerged that night in prayer? Before he began to transfer any authority to his followers, Jesus spent the whole night praying. It all began with prayer.

Why? Did the Son of God need to pray? If not, what he did was a sham, an empty exercise in deception. If he didn’t truly pray and his Father didn’t truly listen and answer, then the Bible is a lie.

Yes, Jesus needed prayer. He needed it because of his kinship with us as a human being. Do we need prayer any less? The Father’s ordained way of working with human issues on this planet is by prayer.

Whatever the project and however small its beginning, it needs prayer first. I’m trying to learn to pray more at the beginning of things, rather than later after the wheels have come off. Why not just pray for the church (as Jesus did) rather than wrangling over church politics, programs, or the latest gimmicks to inspire church growth.

Is it because we pray so little that we have such meager results … and such shallow leadership?

-Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Why God Waits For You To Pray by Keith Roberts

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