There are a lot of different ways people approach prayer. Some folks only pray to God when they have a problem. When a crisis occurs, these people drop to their knees and fervently beg God to make things better. But when circumstances are going well in their lives, these people completely forget about God and never pray.
Other people do the exact opposite. When things are going really well, they are so filled with joy and gratitude, they thank God profusely for all their blessings and good fortune. However, when problems arise, these people get so filled with anxiety and fear, they lose sight of God and do not pray.
I have to admit, I am in this second group. When circumstances in my life are good, I feel so blessed, and I don’t hesitate to offer joyful praise and thanksgiving to God. But when serious problems arise, I get so flustered, almost on the verge of panic, that my entire focus is on what steps I need to take to solve the problem. It’s often not until the crisis has passed that I stop and think, “Wow, I never prayed once during that ordeal. I completely forgot about God.”
I can just hear God at that moment saying to me in a sarcastic voice, “Hel-LO!! Remember me? The whole time you were panicking and losing sleep and feeling sorry for yourself, I was right here. But I guess you were too busy trying to be a hero to ask for a little help.”
(Yeah, I know God doesn’t talk in sarcastic insults like that. But when I think of it this way it helps me to realize what a bonehead I was for not seeking His help.)
I’m really not sure why I find it so difficult to turn to God in times of trouble. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trained by our culture to play the role of the self-sufficient problem solver. You know, that classic Lone Ranger, Marlboro Man, John Wayne persona, which is an attractive—but quite false—ideal of American rugged individualism. When an unexpected challenge arises, maybe I think it’s my job to be a man and find a solution. So, the idea of seeking God’s help gets shoved to the back of my brain.
Without a doubt my behavior is thoroughly foolish. When a particular crisis finally is over, I often shake my head in amazement and say, “I can’t believe it never dawned on me to pray. I was so focused on trying to make things right using my own skills and talents, God just never occurred to me. I’m such a bonehead!”
By the way, my particular problem solving “skills and talents” are so mediocre at best, it’s a miracle I get anything accomplished on my own.
The fact of the matter is, God is quite ready, willing, and able to help us in times of trouble. That’s what loving fathers do. They joyfully assist their precious offspring when problems arise. We are His beloved children, and all we have to do is sincerely seek Him and ask for His help.
The ideal situation is to turn to God in praise and thanksgiving whenever things are going right in our lives. This, of course, is proper because all of our blessings come from the Lord.
Then, when times are tough and we face serious problems, we need to turn to the Lord again, this time in fervent supplication, asking for His divine intercession. His Holy Spirit will calm our panicky nerves, and his supernatural power will give us strength to work through the problem until it is solved.
Afterward, when the ordeal has passed, we’ll be so thankful and relieved. Best of all, we won’t have to call ourselves a bonehead.