What is your first port-of-call when things go wrong in life or challenges unexpectedly arise? Where do you turn? Are you the kind of person who buries their head in the sand, hoping it will all just get better by itself…or better still, will all just go away? Are you a fixer, who wants to immediately put right any wrongs? Do you silently worry about things or do you get angry and vocal as a response to personal difficulty?
St Paul knew what it was like to feel that things had gone wrong. He experienced being shipwrecked, thrown into prison, beaten, chased out of town and dragged before court officials. And yet he was able to say to the Christians at Philippi, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Even though his circumstances took a turn for the worse, Paul prayed. And it seems, he prayed in ‘all’ circumstances…good or not. Clearly Paul was a man of prayer, not just for when crisis came. And we see evidence of his stance of continued, sustained prayer throughout his letters to the churches he planted across Asia Minor as he directed them to ‘pray always’.
Jesus also was a man of prayer who regularly, so the gospels show us, drew away to a quiet place to pray…away from the busyness of the crowds and even from his disciples, to spend time with the Father.
The apostle Paul accomplished extraordinary things under God’s direction. Jesus walked a solitary and unique path that only the Son of God could take. Both engaged in and taught others to engage in persistent prayer. Whatever circumstances they met, what sustained them was prayer – talking and listening to the Father.
What would it take for us to become people of prayer…in all things…at all times…not just for when crisis comes? In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, let us pray. Let us heed their teaching and follow their example and make prayer our first port-of-call and may we seek to regularly draw away to a quiet place to spend time with our heavenly Father.