Have you ever been up late at night wondering how to overcome the obstacle, meet the deadline, deal with the disappointment, or how to pray when the understanding is beyond you? You feel crushed? Stunned. Confused. You’ve metaphorically hit the wall. Yeah me neither. hahah
I’ve been there many times. Life lately on the planet earth has felt like a series of unfortunate events. When will it come together? When will we come out stronger, more resilient? Prayer has the power to tear down strongholds and yet sometimes we feel as though we’ve not a clue how. How do these spiritual weapons work?
Corrie Ten Boom went through some of the most gut wrenching trials while her and her sister were locked in a Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany during the 2nd World War she says, ‘The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for his almighty power. Nothing is too small for his love.’
There in the struggle when you chose prayer you say to Jesus like Peter did when so many fell away, ‘where else would I go?’ And as you pray John 20 has a possible answer to the ‘now what’ question.
Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John really don’t know what is going on. Their world has been traumatized by the death of Jesus. Perceptions are all wrong. Fear and doubt are gaining much ground. Where is the body of Jesus? Is all of this allowed the KINGDOM OF GOD? You can see how perplexing the circumstances would have been.
God sees their need. And unfortunately this pain came with the process of salvation. A salvation they couldn’t yet understand. Often in prayer I am aware GOD KNOWS and I don’t. John 20 shouts, SAME SAME with Mary more than once saying, ‘I don’t know’. She says it first to Peter and John, and then again to the angels. Don’t miss how torn up she is here. She is literally having a conversation with angels and still saying ‘I don’t know’. Jesus starts talking to her, and STILL she misses that it’s even him until he says her name, ‘MARY’. Clarity hits like lightning, ‘Rabbonni.’ Everything reverses. Sorrow is rewound like a VHS movie before her very eyes. Jesus commissions her with authority, MY GOD is your GOD. MY FATHER is your FATHER. Now go and tell them. Here in John 20 Mary is teaching us to pray GOD, YOU ARE MY GOD.
Mary was his student. She didn’t have to have all the answers. SAME SAME for us.
If you are a student you are already prepared for your current difficulty. Why? Because you already value learning. You know you need instruction. There isn’t any faking it till you make it sort of pride. We are children in the class of faith. And we know it. It’s how the weapons work. We’re here to learn.
Jesus teaches us to overcome. He is the ‘founder of our faith’. And we enter into a community to learn together, with ‘a cloud of witnesses‘ to train us. So ‘let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.‘ (Heb. 12:1-3) The bible is full of people who like us, haven’t a clue what to do next. Job is a prime example. Joseph I’m sure had a myriad of questions after being accused of attempted rape. However we benefit from history’s view. We see how God was faithful. God does care, and their pain isn’t evidence of his absence.
Jesus teaches us to come to God as both FATHER and like we would a FRIEND. In Luke 11:5-11, ‘Then Jesus gave this illustration: “Imagine what would happen if you were to go to one of your friends in the middle of the night, pound on his door, and shout, ‘Please! Do you have some food you can spare? 6A friend just arrived at my house unexpectedly and I have nothing to serve him.’ 7But your friend says, ‘Why are you bothering me? The door is locked and my family and I are all in bed. Do you expect me to get up and give you our food?’ 8I tell you—because of your shameless persistence, even though it’s the middle of the night, your friend will get up out of his bed and give you all that you need. 9-10So it is with your prayers. Ask and you’ll receive. Seek and you’ll discover. Knock on heaven’s door, and it will one day open for you. Every persistent person will receive what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.’ (The Passion Translation)
Mary didn’t have the solution. She didn’t even know when she headed for the tomb who would remove the stone so she could anoint his body. (Mark 16:1) She simply persisted. Again in these moments we are much like Peter when he says to Jesus ‘Lord, to whom would we go?’ (John 6:68) The greek word for Lord is kyrie from kuros meaning supreme in authority. There is no higher court of appeal. It’s here we pray our questions, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Psalms 13:1 NIV And we trust the pain in the process won’t stop the fulfillment of God’s promise. It’s here we pray like Jesus ‘is there any other way’ and ask for angelic strength. Christ is ultimately pointing to God as the supreme leader our only authority over all matters.
Christ is a teacher and His GOD IS HIS NOT JUST HIS FATHER, BUT OUR FATHER.
Teachers are in authority in our lives. Fathers are in authority and our lives. Sometimes we need the gentle reminder to trust the good authority of God.
Jesus teaches us to approach God as a judge in Luke 18. When you pray, you and I understand prayer is an appeal to the supreme authority, God the Judge of the living and the dead. (Hebrews 12:23)Anytime we read biblical history and we see a man or woman who appeals to God’s authority afterward they often had something worth saying about the character of God. The great cloud of witnesses has something to say to us.
Hannah says, ‘For the Lord is a God who knows and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble are equipped with strength. (1 Sam 2:2-4)
Mary says the crucifixion of Jesus, the 678 tiger stripe wounds on the body of Jesus isn’t the end and is the ultimate triumph of God’s good plan, to save and heal.
Joseph says though his brothers meant it for harm God all along intended it for good. (Gen 50:20)
Abraham and Sarah appeal to God even though they muddled with God‘s timing attempted childbearing through Hagar, they both did not ruin God’s fulfillment of the promise. JUST STICK AROUND. They have a bit more to say. When it’s hard and the economy is killing your crops?Elijah prays for rain. And he asks the question (because when it’s hard we are all asking this), ‘what do you see’ to his servant. The servant is like Mary coming up empty. ‘I didn’t see anything.’ (1 King 18:43) And still they persist, seven times. And finally something. Satan attempts to put doubt in you. If he can get at your confidence, he has all the rest. In those moments we don’t ‘lean on our own understanding.’ (Prov 3:5) We must pray the LUKE 11 bold ask. We must stay after it even if it’s impossible just like the women walking to the tomb of Christ not knowing how the stone will move, only knowing this is the direction towards Jesus. Trusting you will hear his voice. You will like Mary confess what you know, and trust he will teach you what is next. His promise stands, ‘I will be found of you.’ (Jer. 29:13)