Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Did you think to pray?"

I was studying the 6th Chapter of Luke yesterday, verses 1-12: The scribes and pharisees were so self-righteous that instead of trying to come to know Jesus, to really listen to His teachings and soften their hearts, they were consumed with finding fault and seeking to find accusation against Christ.

It is on the Sabbath day and Jesus has healed a man with a withered hand. Instead of rejoicing in this and acknowledging His power they find fault and question in their hearts why Christ is healing someone on the Sabbath.

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, turns to them and asks, "Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?" Then Jesus tells the man He just healed to show his hand to the scribes and pharisees... did they now understand who Jesus was? Were their hearts softened by His power....they just witnessed a great miracle! Now would they follow Him? NO! In fact, the scripture says they were furious, "they were filled with madness" and they talked about how they would destroy Jesus!

How disappointing and frustrating, after all the good the Savior did to see them not only close their eyes and harden their hearts but seek His destruction. And how did Jesus respond to this? (I know how I would have responded...and it wouldn't have pretty.) What did Jesus do after this encounter? In verse 12 it says, "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." He prayed!!!

What was He praying for? Could it be He prayed for the very thing He taught in His sermon on the mount? "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt 5:44 & Luke 6: 27,28) Wow, what an amazing example of humility and meekness!

When I apply this to my own life... I think of the times I have been falsely accused and despitefully used. I think of the times when my religion has been persecuted, falsely accused and even openly hated and sought to be destroyed. How do I respond? Do I lick my wounds and let anger consume me? Or do I follow my Savior's example and teachings?

I pray to my Father in Heaven to give me love like His Son, Jesus Christ... give me strength and humility like His during times of persecution and trial. I can't do it without Him - I need His Grace, I need His enabling power!

After I read my scriptures this morning, this hymn kept playing in my mind:

Hymn #140 in the LDS Hymn Book: "Did you think to pray?"

"Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ, our Savior,
Did you sue for loving favor
As a sheild today?

When your heart was filled with anger,
Did you think to pray?
Did you plead for grace, my brother,
That you might forgive another
Who had crossed your way?

When sore trials came upon you,
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was full of sorrow,
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?

Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So, when life gets dark and dreary,
Don't forget to pray."

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