I don’t know if I’m desperate enough yet.
This past Sunday, the speaker for our church’s upcoming special services asked us to unite in prayer to prepare our hearts for next week. He asked us to pray with celebration, desperation, expectation and anticipation.
It’s catchy. It’s Biblical. I’m happy to pray those prayers.
So, I begin by praying with celebration, thanking God in advance for the work He’s going to do in our lives, for inhabiting our praise, and for answering us when we cry out to Him.
I pray with anticipation and expectation. That’s easy. Surely I don’t take a night off from my regularly scheduled activities to tune in to God and expect nothing. So, with excitement, I tell God, “I can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned!”
But that prayer of desperation, the idea of it, the challenge of it, has been on my mind and heart for days. It’s branded there and I can feel the aching of burnt flesh as it digs deep, pushing past my outer self and past my complacency and knocking over my bad attitudes, religiosity, and pride.
What does it really mean for us to pray with desperation? Can I say that I’m there as I sit at my kitchen table with my hot tea during my comfortable afternoon quiet time? Is this desperation, this polite bowing of the head and subdued entwining of the fingers?
I know I can go through the motions of it all. I can mutter the magic words, “Lord, we’re desperate for you and your presence.” Then, duty done, I can roll right on to the easier prayers, the ones that don’t require me to empty myself, care about others and place my utter dependence on God.
I refuse to let myself off that easy.
The truth is we are in desperate need of God. I am. Others are. I look to my right and see my prayer journal open with an overwhelming list of requests. They knock the air right out of me and I can’t pray for these people without my prayers becoming breathless words and tearful pleas before a God so able and so worthy of our praise.
This world, its sin and evil, its divorces and separations, unemployment and bankruptcy, abuse and neglect, cancer and death, car accidents and inexplicable illnesses wrecking people with pain, is choking the very breath out of me.
Oh yes, I’m desperate for Him. I’m frantic for His salvation, just as David was when he declared:
God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG).
At least for a moment, I am praying with desperation, and yet it’s so easy to bounce back to an everyday blindness. I don’t see the needs. I don’t see the pain. I don’t see the lostness of people who need a Savior. It is, after all, a life or death matter that I shrug off so effortlessly.
Years ago, my husband and I served under a worship leader who hated the song, Breathe. It made no sense to her. She thought it was silly to sing, “This is the air I breathe . . . this is my daily bread.”
“What on earth does that mean anyway?” she always asked.
It means that Christ gives us the very air we suck into our lungs. He has become for us the Bread of Life and the Living Water. Nothing else can satisfy our most basic needs for sustenance, nutrition, air, for life.
It means without His grace, we wouldn’t survive one second on this killer planet. We’d be dead where we stand. That is why we sing, “I’m desperate for You. I’m lost without You.”
I’ve decided that prayers of desperation simply can’t be desperate enough sitting up at my table. They require time on my knees. More truly, they require some time with my face to the floor.
How else can I come to God humbly enough, confessing that He alone is why I live now and why I have hope for eternity? How else can I lay these requests at His feet with needs so burdensome and heavy they’ve pushed my shoulders to the ground?
This is how desperate prayers are prayed. It’s clawing through the dust of a vast desert, panting and exhausted, searching for the only One who can satisfy us and sustain us.
That’s how David prayed when he was in the desert of Judah, cut off from worship in Jerusalem:
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water
Psalm 63:1 (ESV).
There’s no water in this world that we live in, none at all, that can quench the deep-down thirst of our Spirit for God. We’re desert hikers abandoned among miles of sand without even a canteen in this “dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”
That’s why it’s so important to fight against the blahs of the rigid schedule and the humdrums of daily life.
It’s so necessary to push aside the frantic pace of activities and meetings, responsibilities and the endless line of people who want just a tiny sliver of our pie of time.
It’s imperative that we stop being satisfied with a Sunday morning faith and we start fighting for time in God’s presence.
It’s because we only find God in the desert when we’re looking for Him, really looking, desperately looking. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King