Last spring, a friend of mine was telling me how his mom went into the hospital for what was considered to be routine surgery. His mother was suppose to return home the next day. During this “routine surgical procedure” the surgeon made an error causing internal bleeding. His mother had to be given several blood transfusions to keep her alive. What started out as being an overnight stay turned into a transfer to the ICU and a two week stay in the hospital to recover.
What happened? The surgery was supposed to be routine! As I meditated on the idea of “routine surgery” I realized that there is no such thing. You see all was going well until an artery that normally was supposed to be positioned horizontally wasn’t. In his mother’s case it was not so; her artery was positioned vertically and flat. The surgeon failed to notice this during the time he was closing up the area and he mistakenly sutured her artery causing rapid bleeding.
All during the surgery my friend was being kept posted on how things were going by the doctors via text. My friend would then text me and several other Christians that were praying for his mom and for the surgeon. It’s amazing when you really think about it … on one end you have a team of Christians praying hundreds of miles away in another city, while on the other a team of surgeons are hard at work at repairing a torn artery. I imagine that they were now having to switch gears from routine to life threatening. The doctors now had to draw upon all their skills to see this person through what was suppose to be routine. I wonder if the doctors, after that surgery now consider that when it comes to performing surgery, there is no such thing as routine.
This got me to thinking about prayer, and do I at times treat my prayers as though they were routine. I don’t think any Christians consciously say to themselves, “Oh I guess this will be just a routine prayer.” It’s just that sometimes our attitude or the true purpose for prayer isn’t really examined before we begin to pray. Shouldn’t I always be mindful of what prayer is? Prayer is talking to an almighty God who hears me no matter how big or small I think my prayers are. They are all important to Him. What prayers am I talking about? The ones that I have somehow taken a routine approach to. You know the type of prayers that you make just before you eat a meal … let’s get it done so we can eat. What about that much needed vacation? The one where you petition God’s hedge of protection around you and your family, asking Him for a safe journey while drive or fly to your favorite vacation spot. We can offer this prayer just out of habit but not think about the true mercies of God that we are asking for … that is until we are facing a flat, engine trouble, being lost, or a canceled flight.
Have you ever found yourself going about prayer with a nonchalant attitude? The purpose of this post is to encourage myself and others not to go about “routine prayer.” Let us take time to examine the scriptures to see what Jesus has to say about prayer.
THE LORD AND PRAYER
Matthew 17:14-21 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
I think that after hearing the father’s story about his son’s state of mind, we would all agree that there is nothing routine about his son’s condition. The father begs Jesus to have mercy on his son. The father knew that his son was in need of a great physician. And no doubt the father brought his son to Jesus’s disciples with the expectation of him being cured. But they could do nothing to cure him. There is no mentioning of what the disciples did in their attempts to cure the man’s son. Notice what Jesus said to all who were present, “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Jesus didn’t only rebuke the devil but also a faithless and perverse generation. Perhaps Jesus’s disciples had cured countless people before by rebuking the devil’s hold or influence on individuals. Is it possible that the disciples had a mindset that this was nothing more then “routine?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not passing judgement, only Jesus knows what truly occurred. I give Jesus’s disciples a lot of credit for reflecting on what went wrong with their “procedure,” if you will. But more then that let’s take a closer look at the question they asked Jesus. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” By asking why we could not do it, had they possibly fallen into putting more confidence in their own abilities then the Spirit of God? Jesus’s answer was simple, “your unbelief.” But most important Jesus taught his disciples the significance of prayer and fasting.
So what’s the opposite of routine surgery? Major surgery! We should never take prayer as routine. We should always consider prayer as “major.” Why? Because prayer should be our life line! For if it weren’t for the mercies of God where would we be? The next time you offer a prayer of thanksgiving for your food, a good night prayer with your children, a prayer for someone battling a serious illness, or for someone you love to know the love of Jesus, I hope you consider this … Is this just routine?