With the burdens that beset people and nations these days, there is a growing need to pray. We have reached the point where we need to tap into the power of our Almighty God for deliverance. However, it should be noted that not all can just utter a prayer and expect to be answered. King David said, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him” (Psalm 32:6). He emphasized that as far as God is concerned, only prayers offered by the godly will count. This is certainly the case because, as Isaiah reasoned, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). God needs clean vessels to bring up to him prayers, requests, petitions and thanksgiving. He is a Holy God and those who come to him must also be holy.
But how can we become godly and thus be worthy to offer prayers? Earlier, King David said, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2). Foremost, we need to be forgiven of our sins and trespasses. However, we cannot even reach this point of forgiveness without us acknowledging our sins and confessing them. Again, King David said, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Forgiveness does not come without us asking for it. But when we ask, we must ask with a sincere heart and that sincerity is translated into a commitment not to commit the sin again. Repentance is not only acknowledging and confessing our sin, but renouncing or turning away from it.
The best time to pray is now. The prophet Isaiah said, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). Many tend to take their relationship with the Lord for granted. Since they are living such good lives, they find no need to pray and call on the Lord. They only call on the Lord when they are in trouble—but by then, they could have already drifted away from him. They have lost their relationship with the Lord and they need to look for him and re-establish it. Therefore, we should not take our relationship for granted, for the Lord said, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” (2 Cor. 6:2) Indeed, today is the day of salvation. We cannot afford to procrastinate and expect that things will always be good.
Unless we keep our relationship with the Lord strong, we might not be able to overcome challenges that will come our way. In the Book of Proverbs, we are warned, “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever” (Prov. 10:25). With many natural calamities happening one after the other these days, we cannot help but wonder how we can survive if such disasters come to us. Yet God always performs miracles during such calamitous events in order that he may teach us a lesson and that his name may be glorified. For instance, in the midst of the tsunami that devastated many villages and communities in Japan, we saw one house that stood strong and unmoved, in spite of the rushing water that swept away its neighbouring houses. When asked what made the difference, the daughter of the homeowner said that her father built a basement on the house a few years back. The basement reinforced the foundation of the house, such that it was able to withstand the test that came. It surely cost him a lot of money, but it paid off in the end. Similarly, unless we reinforce the foundation of our faith by our constant communion with the Lord through our prayers, we can easily be swept away by the storms of life. It is a lot easier to build upward, adding more floors to our building, than to build downward and dig deeper. However, this will spell the difference in the end. Spending time to build a closer relationship with the Lord is far better that spending time accumulating wealth and adding titles to our name. It is for this reason that Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matt. 7:24-25). Hallelujah!