The Best of Prayer

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Do you want the best you can think of or the best God can think of? Do you find it difficult to pray as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)?

We live in an instant gratification culture. If we want it, we get it, but prayer often involves a waiting period. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Consider the story of Lazarus in John 11. When he was sick, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. “Lord, the one you love is sick.” The sisters were close friends with Jesus and had seen how He healed people. They thought sure He would come immediately when He got their message, but He didn’t. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days” (John 11:5-6). What?

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. Martha and Mary said to Jesus if He had been there, their brother would not have died. He followed them to the tomb and asked that the stone be rolled away. Martha said, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39). The Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” They rolled the stone away and Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out and Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (Luke 11:44).


Do you see how God was glorified in the waiting? A great number of people had come from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas to comfort Mary and Martha. These people saw what happened and believed. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus, but He gave Lazarus back to them. For two women who probably had no other means of support, this was the best God could think of. This was a greater miracle that what they prayed for or expected.


Thank you, Father God, for Jesus. Help us to pray that He would be glorified in our lives. Help us to pray in line with your will and to persevere–to wait for the best you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Take Time to be Holy

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Martha opened her home to Jesus and His disciples. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. Martha was distracted by all the work involved in showing hospitality and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Instead Jesus defended Mary. He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Even though we are isolated much of the time due to the worldwide pandemic, stress catches us off guard. We get overly concerned about all the work that needs to be done. I’ve learned the hard way to take time in the morning to read God’s word and spend time in prayer. When I first started devotional time, I was concerned that I wouldn’t accomplish all I had to do. I discovered that no time was lost, and I accomplished even more than I set out to do.


A favorite hymn, Take Time to be Holy by William D. Longstaff, came to mind:

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;

Abide in Him always, and feed on His word.

Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

(Read the rest of the lyrics here.)


Lord God Almighty, help us to be like Mary in a Martha kind of world. Help us to take time to be with you every day–to learn from your word and to talk with you in prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.