If prayer is necessary and natural, and if prayer gives us victory over self-sufficiency, then why do we struggle? Why are we always “busy” when a prayer meeting is coming up? Why do we reserve prayer for the occasional emergency, and for the few, quick words before we fall asleep?
The answer is simple: We have been rendered completely unaware of the truth of John 5:19: We can do nothing by ourselves.
But whether we see it or not, we are always in need. How often have you said, “If only I had known . . ..” The sad fact of the matter is, you could have known, if only you had been in touch with the source of all wisdom.
So often we forget that Satan is the prince of this world. But Satan never forgets this fact; and believe me, he doesn’t want us to be happy! “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) Without divine help we are lost. We need that constant contact with our Maker to experience true happiness.
Think of Jesus’ last words as he hung, dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a) and later, “Father into your hands, I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
What words will you say when you find yourself staring death in the face? Will it be: “I can do it alone”, or will it be: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7)? Will you say: “I don’t want to die”, or will you say, like Stephen when he was being stoned, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit . . .. Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60)?
A man’s daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?” asked the man.
“I’m the new associate at your parish,” the priest replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the priest shut the door.
“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith, see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, “I’ll be with you always.” Then just speak to him, and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ So, Father, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her father had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.
“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, Father. In fact, beyond strange – kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed. (Author unknown)
Lord, teach us to pray!
Rob Chaffart To contact us click here