Praying Time

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The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1). A time to pray and a time to cease from praying do not make the list. Though there are times for which it seems that prayer does not work, times when it seems like the power of God has hit a dry spell, we are encouraged to keep praying. But, if I am honest, sometimes it is hard to keep the conversation with God going.

Because what do you say when the marriage fails, when the child dies, when the prognosis is not good? It can be hard to find the words no matter how concerted the effort to locate them. What do we say now and where is the conversation going? Because God is good, it can feel inappropriate to talk about things that do not feel, look, or sound…good. We may believe that conversations about our bad experiences call God’s character into question, that our suffering makes God look bad. However, we are God’s image-bearers—not God’s image protectors. Prayer is not about managing God’s reputation or even our emotions.

Consequently, we don’t need to pray as if God only wants to hear from us when things are going well. We should not pray as if God cannot handle constructive criticism, as if God is “thin-skinned.” God is not a fair-weathered friend who only wants to hear our praises but not our petitions, who will not listen to us until we stop crying. No, our prayer requests for help and healing do not spoil God’s mood. Instead, the teacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for both the good and the bad.

So, pray non-stop (2 Thess 5:17). Pray in and out of season. Pray whether what you are saying sounds good or not. Yes, keep asking even if the request is for answers to questions that begin with, “Why?” Keep seeking even when you don’t want to know the answer. Keep knocking even though you hope the door doesn’t open or you don’t trust the Person behind it.

This is what Jesus says to the disciples: “Ask, it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, NRSV). Jesus sounds like a coach, encouraging us to be persistent in prayer and not to give up on the conversation. Because no matter the season, it is always praying time.

smcneillReverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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