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Make Prayer Your First Resort, Not Your Last

Don’t wait for a crisis to pray.

Prayer as last resort
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Too often we treat prayer as a last resort.

“All we can do now is pray,” we say. We’ve tried everything else. We have run out of options. So we pray.

But that just shows that we don’t truly understand the nature of prayer.

We may often feel helpless, especially in times of crisis and tragedy, but that doesn’t mean that prayer is a last resort. Prayer is not inaction. It is not a throwing-up-of-the hands or a folding-of-the-hands-with-a-helpless-sigh. Oh no. Prayer, rightly understood, is action. It is hard work. It is resolve. It is revolution. Prayer should be the source and foundation of all other efforts. After all, God says, “Call on me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15, NIV). And the Bible exhorts us: “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NIV).

Sure, we know that Jesus prayed so earnestly in the Garden of Gethsemane that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44, NIV). But there is no reason to think He waited until the last moment to express Himself in prayer; the Gospel accounts depict Him praying repeatedly, as a first resort, not as a last resort:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed (Mark 1:35, ESV).

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16, NLT).

At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God (Luke 6:12, The Message).

The fact is, we often turn to prayer in desperation because we failed to pray as a first resort. When we neglect prayer, we are more likely to paint ourselves into corners, so to speak, and end up at our wits’ end. How much better it is to resort to prayer early and often, and in so doing not only follow the example of Jesus, but also guide, and even sanctify, every effort we make in the course of our daily lives. 

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