Prayer: Groaning as in the Pains of Childbirth
“In the School of Prayer, we are all Learners.” — Charles Price
“I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
The creation wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18–23)
Most of the time, present sufferings are considered to be the obvious difficult matters. They are seen, generally witnessed by mankind and experienced at different levels in varying ways. But I believe that present sufferings is not limited to poverty, or punishment, or hardship in tasks but all the more is that it deals with our souls, our spirit, our hearts.
Battling to hate sin is the greatest suffering we have. Keeping up to press on towards the rest which God wants us to claim and have is the heaviest task of all. As a believer, there will be days you’d feel an unexplainable lack of something, that which cannot be satiated by own pleasure as watching TV series, doing film marathons, munching on a favourite savoury treat, or even the company of people you like hanging out with. There would be days you will have no taste for all of it and will be in search and question for what is it that may satisfy the persisting hunger and thirst inside. It’s the soul’s cry. It’s your heart begging to be filled up by One whose water does not run dry.
For many times, I have struggled with prayer. I am not a master of it nor a good learner of it. I have believed for many years and have kept a good deal of knowledge about the Bible and stories of Jesus and have had a lifestyle full of Christianese. But even if I sum it all up and present it to God, it always feels inadequate, not even up to the bit of His greatness and standard.
I still struggle with a lot of things and one major difficulty that I have is indolence. Instead of keeping up with my promised 1-week of fasting and praying, it is shortened to 3 days because I’ve gotten easily distracted and is, then, currently too preoccupied to skip a meal, read a chapter or a passage, and pray. I say to myself, “I’ll make up for it tomorrow.” And when tomorrow comes, I get distracted with either the same or another trail of things and it goes on.
But I am thankful for the God who saves and is sovereign, the God who loves relentlessly. God does not stop in just saving us, He pursues us even when we are in Him already. He pursues to make us more like Jesus Christ, readying us until He comes again. That’s always the case with me and every single time that it happens, it is not simply ever refreshing, but all the more it is progressive.
This morning I just randomly chose to do something different than what I’ve been used to doing in the past weeks. Since this is quite a special week wherein I had to stay at home and work from here because of the bad weather (Well, I love rain so I’m not entirely sold out to calling it ‘bad’.) I have a generous amount of time I can dedicate to whatever-it-is-I-want-to-do. On regular days, such times are for preparations and long hours travel going to work. So yesterday, I did something I wanted to do. But today’s different, I engaged myself to a task I am not completely committed to do. It was a random thing. I was half-hearted about it but I did it anyway.
I opened my EHD folders keeping downloaded sermons, randomly picked up a sermon from Charles Price’s folder with the cursor. Then it pointed to one title when I said ‘stop’ while dashing the pointer up and down. I did not much favour the title it stopped onto; it’s titled “The Reward of Prayer”.
It has the word Prayer on it.
I admit it. I am not a prayerful Christian in a sense that it’s my lifestyle, that I do it everyday and that is not yet my habit. How ironic, is it not? Christians are expected to be prayerful. So if you call yourself a Christian, a picture’s already painted about how you are as a person. Stereotyped. We are as if perfect, without blemish and fault.
But this is the truth: I may pray but I do not know completely about it, I am not well versed in it, in fact I struggle with it. I fail doing it ever since I’ve become a truly believing Christian. I love praying only whenever I have the time and my body’s in condition but I have a hard time with it on ordinary busy days. And I hate that I am like so. It’s frustrating.
Still, I listened to the sermon anyway. I stuck to the plan because why not?
Ps. Charles Price spoke a lot of things I agree on and has laid truths I cave into, as you can see on the screenshot of my notes. But I couldn’t deny and simply brush off the itching thought that I am guilty about not intentionally appreciating and ceasing the opportunity of my gifted intimacy with the Father through prayer and that I have to do something about it, immediately. I had to give in.
And so I prayed, I had no words to say to God but I was crying my heart out. I spoke of words only the Spirit knew, I let Him did so, nonetheless. I spoke of words I do not know and understand but comfort and peace filled me up. I was groaning and crying and exploding with emotions altogether, gently and strong. I thought about my failures and my lack but the fighting thought of coming to God overwhelmed the sense of running away and doing my own way. It is true when they say God has won your heart. He really does.
The words I understood came one by one. Confession and asking for forgiveness lined up properly for my mouth to speak of, with genuinity and simplicity. There were no flowery words to mix it up with. It was just me and Him. And now I am writing this.
I want to express and tell you about the joy of coming to Jesus every single time you struggle with prayer and especially when you question your intimacy with the Father, and when you lack acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit in your every day life. You just have to come every time. You just have to choose to do so, for there is no other way nor is there any other better choice. Coming to Jesus’ feet is already the best of choice there is.
As I was about to end my communion, I was reminded of verse 22 in Romans chapter 8 about groaning as in the pains of childbirth, since we are waiting eagerly for the finality of our lives here, when we can be with the Lover of our souls in eternity. I have always hoped and longed for that. But a lot of times my hoping and longing are subtly covered with distractions until I loose sight of the most important goal to most anticipate for in my life, just like yours. We all tend to set our sight on the temporary, away from that which is of eternity.
But this is why Jesus said that He will never leave us nor forsake us and that He has given us His Spirit to continually battle the distractions and fight for our love to be rekindled again and again and again with progressiveness, until the end comes. We, who chose to believe, groan inwardly in our souls, hearts and spirits, though we do not notice. Our inner selves look for the One who fills us up to the brim overflowing, He who makes us whole and equipped.
It is not enough to know that Jesus Christ being God came to earth, became a Man, lived like a Man, lowly, healed the sick, raised the dead to life, performed miracles, died on the cross, and rose again after 3 days. It is not enough to know that He is the only Saviour and Lord. It is not enough to know that God is able to forgive sins however great they are in man’s sight. It is not enough to know for we need to consciously remind ourselves of what it really means. It is not enough to know for we need to pursue experiencing and living what it means to be saved, to be ransomed.
This is why in all our lack, superseding our failures and sins and weaknesses — with discipline, love and grace, God gathers us to Him relentlessly. So relentless it’s unbelievable.
I am grateful for the eternity He has put in our hearts. When the Spirit sealed us, marking us as saved and adopted sons of God, we have become more than conquerors, not just over the obvious present sufferings but all the more over our inner present sufferings. We are not alone in this battle for God is with us in the beginning, at present, until the end.