It happens to just about every Christian. For some reason, prayer flies standby in most of our lives. Something happens and it gets bumped from the day’s flight.
So, family stresses or business demands or spiritual laziness make you skip prayer one day. And before you know it you’re on a slippery slope. And five or seven or ten days go by without you talking to your Father.
Then—you know the scenario well if you’re like most of us—you suddenly find yourself in a foxhole situation. You need the Lord’s help. As desperately as Peter did when he was sinking (Matthew 14:30) and King David did when his son Absalom was attempting a coup d’état (see Psalm 3) and Isaiah did when he saw the Lord in the temple high and lifted up and felt more vulnerable than Custer at Little Big Horn (Isaiah 6).
But … but … but—you’ve been derelict in prayer. Treated it, at least for a period of time, as though it’s as unnecessary to you as Caladryl to someone not allergic to poison ivy.
And now! . . . now!! . . . now!!!—after neglecting the Father for days you’re going to ask Him for help? Talk about betting on a long shot!
Enemy of Prayer
It’d be bad enough if the only problem was your conscience. But it’s got an ally. The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). His infernal majesty. Satan. The one who gets his kicks by kicking us when we’re down. And the primary purveyor of pessimism. When you need to pray but haven’t prayed in a while, the devil shouts in your ear that when the Father sees your name on His caller ID He won’t answer.
He’ll go out of his way to sell you on this idea that your neglect makes you persona non grata at the throne of grace. Now, it’s as bogus as Confederate money. But he’ll try to make you feel your prayer will be no more welcome than a telemarketer’s call at dinnertime. And if you’re not careful he’ll con you into making the serious mistake of not praying.
He Will Draw Near to You
So, how do you overcome the dynamic duo of a sore conscience and a sadistic devil conspiring to silence you with the pessimistic thought that your Father won’t hear you because you’ve neglected Him?
You overcome them with the Zig Ziglar optimism-fueling assurance of James: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Draw near to God. In spite of what Jiminy Cricket says, don’t let your conscience be your guide. And don’t listen to Satan’s lie either—the lie that your Father will turn the deaf ear to you that He’ll turn on the day of judgment to those who’s lives show they never trusted Christ in spite of what they say to the contrary (Matthew 7:21-27).
Draw near to God. Meaning, talk to your Father. Come before Him through Jesus (John 14:6). Ask Him to accept you and hear you and forgive you for neglecting Him and help you now—solely because of your Savior. Got that? Ask your Father to do these grace things for you here, now, in this situation.
Why should you do this?
Draw near to God AND he will draw near to you. Got the point? A good doctor won’t refuse to treat a person wheeled into the ER with a self-inflicted wound. A good lawyer won’t refuse to handle a client guilty of the crime with which he’s charged. A good mother whose child has gone too far out in the water in spite of her warnings and is now sinking and crying for help won’t say, “I told you not to do that. You’re on your own.”
AND a good Father, indeed, the best of Fathers, won’t neglect you even though you’ve been neglecting Him.
Been neglecting Him? Need Him now?
Draw near to Him.
AND He WILL draw near to you.
Know what you call that? Grace!