Prayer is no polite affair in the Scriptures. The Psalms are not sweet little ditties whipped up by David while he leisurely strummed upon the lyre. The Bible describes prayer in picturesque and evocative language, yet no picture is more vivid than Paul’s description of Epaphras wrestling in prayer for his own church mates ( Colossians 4:11). I wonder if the Holy Spirit brought to Paul’s mind images of Jacob wrestling with God, refusing to let go until there was a blessing. Or perhaps Paul was thinking of the prayer as martial arts, as training for warfare against enemies who are not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.
Life changing prayer often arises from the crucible of affliction. Yet our tendency is to run away from crisis rather than pray through it. We are, by nature, pain avoiding creatures. Yet, relief and peace are not the same thing. The Christian life will be one of grueling and grappling spiritual conflict. Relief can come from escape, but peace comes only from Christ.
Scottish pastor Ralph Erskine put it this way,” some may bless themselves they were never assaulted by the devil and yet they are but sleeping, as it were, in the devil’s cradle and he is rocking them.” ( The Comer’s Conflict )
Those who fall asleep in that cradle will never awake. May we be careful to “watch and pray” when we would rather “whine and bail out. ” “Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, becaue you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3