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"Has It Come to That?!"
You've likely heard the resigned comment of the man recounting his troubles to a friend. "I tried this, I tried that, I tried this and that" said the troubled man. "But finally, well, finally, I just had to pray about it!" The other gentleman, realizing with alarm the severity of his friend's plight, mournfully shook his head and responded with a sympathetic sigh, "Ohhh, has it come to that?!"
The story always gives me a brief chuckle. Then, alas, the realization sets in that I have so often been both parties in the matter concerning issues of my own life. Indeed, how easy it is to act as if prayer is a last resort rather than a first response. As much as I think about prayer, preach about prayer, write about prayer, and, well, hopefully actually pray a bit, I still too often begin dealing with matters by emphasizing the human rather than the Divine.
By this I don't mean that we must specifically pray about everything we do before we do it. Life comes at us fast and furious, and there are plenty of times when we must actively respond to matters in the moment. Such occasions are likely covered by those prayers we've recently prayed for the Lord's leading and enabling, perhaps at the beginning of the day.
Of such supplication, the Psalmist said, "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up. For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with Thee" (Psalm 5:3-4). In other words, David lets us know that we do well to begin our days with prayer, lest wickedness and evil overtake us because of our neglect to early access the guidance and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course, prayer is more than a beginning of the day matter, which returns us to our consideration that many matters come to us that allow for seeking God as we begin to respond to them. No better way exists than beginning with the One declared "is the Beginning" (Colossians 1:18). If you'll allow another quick anecdote, a lady named Rosie Ruiz once finished first in the women's division of the Boston Marathon. She was disqualified, however, because it turned out that Rosie had not run the entire 26.2 mile race. She jumped onto the course about a half mile from the finish line, breaking the tape first, but also breaking the rules. Rosie didn't start on start, she didn't begin at the beginning, and thus was disqualified at best, and has become a symbol of cheating at worst.
We must begin at the Beginning, both by initiating our days with prayer, and by availing ourselves of the opportunity to pray about matters when we have opportunity. Great wisdom, guidance, enabling, and the joyful living of life, the very life of Christ, awaits us as the Originator of our lives is consciously known as the fountainhead from which all streams must flow. In such assurance likely familiar to us, we close with Solomon's beautifully declared promise of Divine guidance, based upon human supplication...
"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."