Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Praying Always = NEVER Losing Heart!

We live in the "best of times and the worst of times."  Many fail to "count their blessings" and to be thankful to God for such blessings as abundant food, multiple daily choices of clothing and shelter.  And, not only shelter, but shelter that includes tight roofs, heating, air conditioning, carpeted floors, hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, refrigerators (fully stocked!), washers, dryers, microwaves, radios, TV's and internet access.  America has the "richest" poor folks in the world!

 Having said that, we live during the first generation since the Great Depression that will leave to our children an America that is poorer, weaker and less united than the America we received from our parents.  Studies show that, adjusted for inflation, real wages in the United States have remained flat for the last 30 years.  In contrast with that, extreme wealth and extreme poverty (by American standards) have greatly accelerated, for people at both extremes of the equation pay little or no tax.  Inflation is once again at the point it was during the 1970's and early 80's, though the government conceals the real numbers having removed from its computations the two greatest culprits of inflation, food and fuel.  High housing costs are being artificially propped up by government fiat.  Real unemployment is likely around 20% for government computations do not include those who have expired un-employment benefits and / or have quit looking for work.  When one includes the under-employed (those who work longer and harder for far less money than they did in pre economic crisis years), upwards to 40% of all Americans are either un-employed or under employed.  Not only that, blue collar unemployment is rampantly high.  The latest un-employment estimate for men not holding a college degree is running at approximately 40% as well.

 Other factors are contributing to our national malaise.  Divorce, abortion, out of wedlock births, declining birth rates among married and stable families, child abandonment, drug and alcohol addiction, promiscuity and isolation are all assaulting the family, God's essential cornerstone of society.  As a result of all these factors, plus the aging of the largest generational group in American history, the "Baby Boomers," America is depressed, disenchanted and without clear purpose.  These factors have not only affected families and individuals, they are affecting the church.  Attendance is in free fall decline, especially on Sunday nights and Wednesdays among churches of Christ.  Many congregations have abandoned meeting on Sunday night completely.  People are leaving older, smaller, poorer and urban congregations for newer, larger, richer and suburban congregations.  Churches of Christ are, as Jesus alludes to in Luke 18:1, beginning to "lose heart."

 So... how do we NOT lose heart?!  The answer is one that is both easy and difficult.  It is an answer that is easy to identify intellectually but difficult to put into practice for the implementation requires both individual Christians and entire congregations of God's people to reflect, repent and to pray....ALWAYS.  The answer requires an admission failure to achieve God's Will by our own individual and corporate effort.  The answer requires that we be open and transparent with both God and with each other.  The answer requires that we all admit, before God, that we are both inadequate and unworthy before the task.  The answer, in fact, requires a total surrender on our part to the sovereignty, purpose and Will of God.  The answer requires that we "let go and let God!'

 In Luke 18:1 - 8, Jesus makes a number of observations as how "not to lose heart."  Among others there are these:

 1. NOT losing heart is tied 100% to "prayer without ceasing."

2. God WANTS to be annoyed with our prayers!

3. NOTHING is off the table with God.  When we have needs, God wants to hear about them!

4. We are not just anybody, we are God's ELECT!

5. God does not mind that we "cry to Him day and night."

6. God will not long delay in answering our "ceaseless prayers."

7. God will soon deliver justice to us.

 This is a great promise and one that is more than obvious, we must grasp it in our day and time!  "IF" we fail to grasp it, the Son of Man will return to find no faith on the earth.  We are God's men and women at a critical time in history!  "Let us ALWAYS pray and NOT lose heart!" 

                                                                      -  Russ McCullough  

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