Prayer is often trivialized in the Christian life. We see it as a life preserver on a boat, adorning the wall of a cabin, deck, or safety railing, but rarely consider the need to use it. Why would we? We’re safe in the boat, right?
That’s how we think of prayer. It adorns our Christian façade. But when our lifeboat capsizes, we say, “Throw me a life preserver!”
Many of us view life as a cruise. We’re kept safely afloat, enjoying the comforts of our career, home, family, and friends. We kick our feet up after a hard day’s work and talk about sports. We settle down over a large meal, wasting most of it. We sleep with air conditioning and soft pillows. We live basic care-free lives.
But we are blinded by these things. We can’t see past them.
The truth is, we are treading water in the middle of an ocean, and the boat is nowhere around. The security and comforts of life cover the war waging in us. Every moment we breath in, there’s a battle between our soul, the world, and the flesh.
James reminds us in a rather poetic reality check. In his letter, he sends Christians through the grinder, cranking away on our misconception. Consider 10 tests in the book of James to jolt us from our cruise ship comfort:
- Do you humbly endure all things, knowing God is able to grant you wisdom for living (Jas. 1:2-18)?
- Do you listen to God’s counsel more than you speak, and obey His word (Jas. 1:19-27)?
- Do you treat the lowliest people the same as those who bring you benefit (Jas. 2:1-13)?
- Do your works prove your faith is firmly planted in Christ, even when sacrifice is required (Jas. 2:14-26)?
- Do you control your tongue as if Jesus Christ were listening (Jas. 3:1-13)?
- Do you view life with divine wisdom that is counter-cultural and opposing worldly success (Jas. 3:13-18)?
- Do you treasure Christ above all things in this world as your primary passion (Jas. 4:1-12)?
- Do you prioritize the gospel in your planning (Jas. 4:13-17)?
- Do you always manage your money to be generous to the poor and their well-being (Jas. 5:1-6)?
- Do you maintain an attitude that pleases the Lord, without grumbling or complaining (Jas. 5:7-12)?
If you answered “No” to any of the above, then the war against sin continues. A reasonable consideration of the book of James should send every Christian to the foot of the cross in desperation. In fact, James figured it would. He expected some would be too broken to bear the weight alone (Ja. 5:13-18).
What does he say to us? Pray. If you are warring against sin, pray. If you are triumphant, pray. If you are broken and wounded by sin’s blade, pray. And if you cannot pray, ask someone to pray for you. Whatever you do, pray!
Why? Because prayer is powerful and able to heal those wounded by sin.
The boat is not here. The comforts are not here. We live in a fallen world in fallen flesh. We are treading to survive in a vast ocean of sin. So pray–without ceasing.