Strange prayers

It should never be hard to brag on God.

That’s what I told my church this weekend. And yet, in my pastoral experience, it’s hard to get Christians to share a testimony sometimes. I’ve tried to reflect on the possible reasons.

What do you think?

Maybe people don’t know how to put to words what they’ve experienced. Are they embarrassed to say anything? They could feel that what they have to share doesn’t constitute a testimony. I imagine there are some people who feel like a “worship service” isn’t the place for that kind of talk. So, let’s mix testimony with prayer.

A few weeks ago, someone raised their hand to pray in worship. The prayer was a thanksgiving for “unanswered prayer.” Afterward, I asked if I could ask what that meant. “Well,” the saint said, “God not answering yet doesn’t mean God isn’t listening. I can still thank him for that.”

As you can see, testimonies come in all fashions.

That saint asked me in response if I thought that was an okay prayer. “It probably sounded weird, right?” The light chuckles we heard affirmed so.

But if you know any of the imprecatory psalms, strange prayers don’t catch you off guard.

King Hezekiah offers a prayer in Isaiah 38 that might coincide with what we prayed for that week. If you study the passage, take time to look at 2 Kings 20 as well. Both passages describe the king’s prayer. Isaiah’s version goes further. You can appreciate more of Hezekiah’s feelings in the Isaiah text.

The king had been ill. Deathly ill, it seems. We’re told God responded to him this way: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life (Isaiah 38:5).

If you’ve endured anything close to that, you can understand the tears behind the prayers. After the king recovered, he offered a prayer, perhaps a testimony that begins at Isaiah 38:10. And here’s the strange line of that prayer: My eyes are weary with looking upward.

Looking upward means looking to God. The king looked to God for so long and with such need, he grew weary of it. You’re not supposed to get tired of looking up to God, right? How can a Christian heart tire of turning to God? Again, if you’ve endured such hardships, you can understand that feeling. How long is too long to pray? To trust? To hope?

Perhaps the better question is, How do you keep praying, trusting and hoping, even when you’re weary from doing so?

Well, to answer that, let’s finish where we started: testimony.

Testimonies give God praise. But they also give saints hope.

That’s what I take from King Hezekiah today. Even after being weary from looking upward, he learned that those living have to give thanks to God. Amen to that. Like fathers make known to children God’s faithfulness, your testimony, as small as it may seem to you, inspires the church.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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