This morning I woke up early (6-something), after going to sleep late (close to 2am) and felt irritated to not still be sleeping. As I lay on my bed, tossing and turning in protest at being awake, I felt the gentle prompt of the Holy Spirit to pray for family/friends back home, friends in the camp, and the massive political and religious issues unfurling worldwide that are affecting millions of people daily. "Okay, Jesus, I'll just lay here and casually pray, with the hopes that once I'm done, You will help me to fall back to sleep!" (I'm a very selfish person... sorry if you weren't aware of that fact!) It's now close to 8am, and I'm still awake and my heart is still heavy.
There is a sentence that has been playing in my head as I read Scripture and attempted to sort-of pray: "If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land..." I've heard this passage quoted so many times that I am able to type it from memory! But I think one part of it has been overlooked often when it's taught on: humility! Prayer requires humble-ness, doesn't it? It's a coming to the end of yourself. It's a cry for help. It's a petition for intervention in a place where you know you have no power or ability to impact.
Prayer isn't popular. I probably can count on my fingers the men and women in my life that I know have a vibrant prayer life- you know, the kind that puts you to shame when they tell you they pray for you every morning or interceded for 20 years for someone to be free from their bondage? It's rare! Another thing that is rare is humility! It's not natural to anyone, even the people that seem to be naturally humble.
I'm currently spending my days in a refugee camp- it's one of the darkest places you can go: people fleeing from war and bearing the marks from this, eyes once lit with hope are now darkened by defeat from months of just sitting in utter boredom, sins and wickedness that have been allowed to enter into the lives of a few now engulf and affect everyone surrounding, and I could keep going on. If anyone ever had a reason to pray, it is me! I "do well" on most days, starting it with prayer, ending it with prayer, and throwing up prayers in between as situations arise. But, if I'm completely honest, there isn't always that humility that this passage speaks of. The realization that unless God moves, unless He works, unless it's His power nothing will be broken or be rescued. This passage isn't talking about casual prayer, it is talking about deep dependence prayer, and I'm convinced most of us know nothing about this sort of thing.
I once read a story of a man who would spend every night praying God would use him to save one person the next day- he would pray until he felt God had heard and answered yes (we are talking hours here). Eventually he began to wonder why he was just praying for one person, so he slowly began to pray for more, until he got up to 5 people a day that were coming to know God through him. It also reminds me of the story of Elijah praying for it to rain after there had been a drought for three years (1 Kings 18:41-46) He prayed and sent his servant to look seven times before God answered his prayers. I wonder if I would've stopped long before seven... But I long to keep striving to have this dependency and humility before the Lord- may God continue to bring this about in my heart and life!