A survey taken during 24-27th April 2020 and published by TearFund revealed that 1 in 20 adults had started to pray during lockdown that had not prayed before. Just over 26% said they prayed at least once a month. But why?
45% said it was because they believed in God.
33% said they prayed because they believed it would work.
26% said they prayed during crisis.
24% prayed because they felt lonely.
It would appear that in the UK this pandemic has caused people to look beyond themselves for help. May that continue for Jesus is waiting!
In this final section of Paul’s letter to the Colossians which started with him saying he was praying for them and thanking God for them he now goes on to ask for prayer for himself.
The Apostle starts, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4 v 2)
Just a brief reminder:
Paul is telling the Colossians to ignore the infiltrators who are saying Christ in their life isn’t enough and they need other things also. They have died to performance, been hidden and now raised in Christ and are with Him above and beyond the circumstances of their life.
Bluntly now: In that place talk to Him.
One of the top ten hymns of all time is the following:-
What a friend we have in Jesus/ All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry/ Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit/ Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry/ Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?/ Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged/ Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful/ Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness/ Take it to the Lord in prayer
Joseph Scriven wrote the lyrics of this hymn, but it was actually published anonymously in the 1850s/1860s, mistakenly attributed to someone else. It wasn’t actually until 1886 that Joseph got recognition for his work, the year in which he passed away.
When asked if he was the author Joseph replied, ‘the Lord and I did it between us!’ Joseph went on to tell how he had forgotten about the hymn for many years, having so many troubles and trials on his mind. It was found by a friend who was visiting Joseph during one of his severe bouts of depressive illness. When asked about it Joseph beset by severe depression brought upon by tragedy after tragedy, with watery eyes said ‘that’s a very personal poem of testimony that God helped me to write to comfort my mother during a time of great sorrow in our lives. I never intended it to be used by anyone else.’
He was born in Northern Ireland in 1819. He suffered much heartache during his life. His fiancée drowned on the eve of their wedding and then his second fiancée died prematurely after becoming ill. Joseph never quite recovered from this second tragedy, and suffered periods of depression for the rest of his life.
And yet through all this, he knew what it was to have a friend in Jesus.
Having migrated to Canada he joined the Plymouth Brethren and began to help in the ministry especially amongst the elderly, the physically handicapped and brought comfort to the poor and those with mental health problems. His own suffering made him more aware of the suffering of others.
This broken man in many ways put others first as he walked with Christ his friend.
Your life may be a broken one and there may be far more questions than answers. You may not be swinging from the chandeliers of life and it can be simply a struggle. But friendship is a sharing of experiences, a personal and deep bonding of genuine care. There is a friend, His name is Jesus, talk to Him about everything.
Joseph Scriven died by drowning and no one knows whether it was an accident or suicide. But this broken man of prayer left a legacy that people are still singing about in 2020.
Back to the Apostle:
Be devoted in prayer. He doesn’t encourage them to pray. They obviously did that. He tells them to be devoted to it. Continually, throughout the day, all the time, about everything, talk to Jesus.
Be watchful. In ancient cities, built into the walls were huge watchtowers and watchman were posted day and night. But God spoke about how He had called His people to pray, see how they must do that with perseverance: “I have posted watchman on your walls , O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7)
Be thankful – which is the language of faith. How can you talk to Jesus without being thankful for all He has done and who He is?!
Let’s pray. Christ is waiting to be asked.