September 28, 2018

The Assurance of Prayer

Isaiah 55:1-7

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

—  Isaiah 55:6

A number of studies have tried to search out the benefits of prayer. Results often indicate that people who pray are generally happier and healthier than people who don’t. This may help people to consider praying more. And people who do pray know that the benefits of prayer extend far beyond their health and their sense of happiness.

As we have noted this month, prayer is ultimately about a relationship we have with God. I am reminded of a definition of prayer that I found in an old book some years ago: “Prayer is a cumulative life of friendship with God.”

Just as a friendship involves and affects two people as they interact, so does our relationship with God. Today’s Bible reading makes this clear. On the one hand, we are instructed to seek God, which seems to imply that prayer happens by our initiative. But our seeking of God is only possible because God first says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” God calls, and we answer. Prayer is our enjoyment of a banquet already prepared by God. We pray not because we must, but because we may.

As we turn to the Lord, we find the One who has already turned to us in mercy and who freely pardons. This is the assurance of prayer—and also its greatest blessing.

Because you have first sought me, I seek you, O Lord. Because you have called to me, I call to you. Thank you for the amazing relationship I can have with you, through Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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