When I was a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, fresh out of Officer Training School, I learned to respond to my superior officers with one of three phrases whenever they addressed me:
“Yes Sir!” “No Sir!” “No excuse, Sir!”
Those days of being a G. I. are long gone. I traded dog tags for diaper bags way back when. But I’m still faced with three responses to God’s commands: “Yes, Lord!” “No, Lord!” “No excuse, Lord!”
Recently, I had no excuse.
We sat on the edge of the bed, her and me. We talked about the importance of prayer and the book she was reading on that subject.
As I scanned the synopsis on the book jacket, she shared her desire and need to pray more often, be more persistent.
We discussed prayer. Does prayer make a difference?
We discussed scripture about prayer.
We prayed over our meals. We bowed our heads in prayer during church. Can’t speak for her, but I silently voiced hasty, self-absorbed prayers.
But that weekend, we never prayed together for the issues that weighed heavily on both our hearts. Even when tension escalated and the need was great…prayer was absent.
No prayer? No power. No victory.
Would there have been a different outcome, a different attitude and response toward our circumstances if we’d made prayer a priority instead of a subject for discussion?
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed….
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly….
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” (Luke 22:39-46)
Exhausted from sorrow? Sounds like a good excuse to me, but Jesus didn’t want excuses. He wanted them to get up and pray. He wanted them to respond, “Yes, Lord!”
After Jesus prayed, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”
Earnest prayer didn’t change the outcome, but it enabled Jesus to accept God’s will and obey Him even to the point of death on a cross.
If the disciples had prayed that night, would they have run away and forsaken Jesus when he was arrested?
If the Apostle Peter had prayed that night, would he have denied knowing Christ three times before the cock crowed?
“Devote yourselves to prayer….” (Colossians 4:2)
“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Pray to the Father…that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:16)
And every day, I either respond:
“Yes, Lord!” “No, Lord!” “No excuse, Lord!”
Even in this……