We all know how important prayer is to the Christian life, and we all experience varying degrees of inadequacy, and varying amounts of hope and doubt as we try to make prayer central to our lives. So far we’ve had a great mixture of inspiration and encouragement at Spring Harvest. Last night Pastor Agu Irukwu, originally from Nigeria, talked about Elijah, his faith and also his weakness, and called us to consider if we would be part of an “Elijah generation” who will pray earnestly and persistently and “give the Lord no rest”(Isaiah 62:6-7) until we see a spiritual awakening in our nation.
In this morning’s Bible teaching on Matthew 6:5-8 Pete Greig helped us to see that Jesus was saying prayer should be simple, real and persistent. He spoke movingly of how he had spoken angrily to God when his wife was about undergo a dangerous operation for a brain tumour, telling God that it was not OK for him to take her, and reminded us of Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and the psalmists complaining to God and saying how they felt about their situation.
This afternoon he dealt with the issue of unanswered prayer, looking at Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32f) and on the Cross. In Gethsemane, Jesus trusts God’s love as his Father (“Abba”) and his power “All things are possible to you”, but still prays that God will take away his cup of suffering. God does not answer that prayer, but Jesus accepts God’s will and through this the world is saved. In the same way, suffering and experiencing God’s absence can be part of his purpose to help us grow. “You can never learn faithfulness until your heart is broken”, said Pete Greig.
More tomorrow! …