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August 20, 2011

Prayer – It Is What We Do

by Rev. A. J. Iovine


Last week, I had the opportunity to talk on the Missouri Synod’s radio station, KFUO-AM out of Saint Louis, Missouri, on the topic of prayer, specifically on Matthew 7:7-11 spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to the disciples in what is known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ In these very powerful passages, Jesus said the following:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

In a broader context, these words were spoken during Jesus’ sermon when He established the preaching ministry (the first part of the Sermon) and what was to be preached; afterward, He continued with the importance of being in prayer with God. As Saint Paul tells us in Romans, he exhorts believers to be “unceasingly” in prayer —- basically telling the Romans and all of us, our lives are to be focused on that one incredible act of talking with our Father in heaven about the heavy concerns on our hearts. To pray unceasingly is one of those duties of a Christian; to give over to our God the hurts, the sorrows, the fears, the worries, the concerns, and the pains that this live has given to us. We are to go to God always in prayer, asking Him to take our problems and help us solve them.

However, do you always go to God in prayer?

And when you do, are your prayers just mumblings that we say as you’re doing it to just “get it out of the way” before laying down to sleep?

Or do you feel like so many people that when you ask God for help, that help never comes?

As I mentioned on the radio show—Studio A with Roland Lettner—one of the most important parts of our prayers in our confidence in God that He hears us and will answer us in His way. How many times have we asked for help and during some dark and painful period our prayers seemingly go unanswered? The essential part of our lives as redeemed members of God’s family is to live with the knowledge that God understands our problems and concerns, and that most of all He loves us. Especially when we are faced with very hard choices and can’t make sense of why “bad” things are happening all around us, the confidence we have in our Father should remind us that through it all, God loves us, cares for us, and wants the best for us. And through everything bad, good comes out of it, whether or not we can see the good at the time.

The question of my own health issues was raised during the interview. I said that I prayed and had confidence that the Father hears my prayers, for I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit took my heart-felt cries and brought them to my Lord Jesus Christ who is interceding for me.

I wanted my first round of cancer treatment to come out OK and clean; but it didn’t. Faced with another long round of radiation and the possibility that I could lose my voice, I didn’t let this potential bad situation get me down. For whatever I face, I know it will be for the glory of God.

So no matter what I face, I continue to go on, working in the harvest fields to talk (and write) about the love of God through His one and only Son who suffered and died for my sins and the sins of the whole world. I try my best to keep a smile on my face and a joyous word on my lips to tell the Good News. Even when I am worn out, tired beyond anything imaginable, when I am struggling to move because my body aches, or when I want to just fall into a heap on the floor, I ask God to help me use this disease for His glory.

And I know He listens and answers.

All the time, no matter the situation, I get told that my attitude is quite good considering that I have a disease that could kill me. Time after time, when I bring Christ to the sick and struggling, whether here at Saint Matthew’s or those I meet outside of our church family, I am always told that I look good for a guy who is battling cancer. I meet people in the stores, restaurants, on the street, and nearly every time they comment on my outlook.

And when I am home, sitting in that heap on the couch wanting nothing more than to sleep for 12 hours, I pray and thank God He’s given me another day and another opportunity to talk to someone—anyone—about His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Praying is what we Christians do. We don’t need set hours to do so, we just pray unceasingly and everywhere.

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