Is it just me, or do you also become discouraged in prayer? Often, I feel like I am getting nothing done, and when that happens, I stop praying altogether. It becomes hard to pray for people near and dear to me, much less a mostly unknown people on the other side of the world.
Recently, I was reading a biography of Hudson Taylor and noticed a very similar mass discouragement in prayer for the people of China. A man named Gutzlaff had travelled extensively in Europe chiefly to raise up prayer for the Chinese people. Then, when his mission to reach the Chinese of the interior largely failed, most of those whose hearts had been stirred to pray were discouraged. Most stopped praying altogether.
Does God really hear our prayers? When we pray for a people we hardly know anything about, does God really answer and work? Maybe it is just me that feels this way, and even if this is all written just for me, I want to wade my way through and find the other side.
In such times, I have to go back to the basics. If I do not, in my doubting of the lesser passions, I have a tendency to doubt till I have doubted even the foundations of the faith. This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul reminds the church of God in Corinth of the fundamentals, fundamentals which have been proven beyond all shadow of a doubt, and which are the foundation of our hope in Christ.
Our prayer is that the gospel be proclaimed, and this is the gospel we preach:
That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time,
most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
We know what the Lord has done for us, that he has died for our sins. We give our lives to him as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for forgiving us. He is pleased for us to become his children, being raised to new life each day just as Christ was first raised. Just as sure as Christ was raised, we also die to the flesh and are being raised again to new life each day in our lives for him.
Wow! Now, that sounds pretty good. Just reminding myself of the precious gift I have been given makes me want to share it with those around me. It makes me feel so deeply even for those on the other side of the world, because I know they bow down to wood and stone, they search for answers from witch doctors, they ask ancestors to bless their lives. They are living out death. They have not seen what life is really like.
That is why I pray. And though it is easy to lose site of the real objective and get lost in the details of life, I remind myself of the gospel and I feel for such huge numbers of people who have never heard the name of Jesus.