Praying til Pentecost Day 40
"These with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." Acts 1:14
Made for TV movies usually include a classic scene in any hospital trauma drama. The camera pans the worried faces of people gathered in a hushed waiting room. The door of the operating area abruptly opens, startling the despondent and anxious people out of their seats. Out walks an exhausted physician dressed in hospital garb, fresh from his battle with the forces of death. He removes his mask, looks down at the ground and then into the eyes of the family and friends of the patient. Then he speaks the dreaded words, "Now, all we can do is pray!" The reaction is priceless. It ranges from shrieks of horror to sighs of hopelessness. The scene closes with despair and despondency plastered on the faces of the actors. The camera fades away along with the hope of those who had expected more from the masked, miracle man. AAAANNNND SCENE. That's a wrap.
There is one thing that is common to almost every Hollywood version of this scene. NO ONE EVER PRAYS! The doctor gives the prescription, but no one ever fills it. People are caught in the paralysis of analysis. They come to the reality that, "It has come to THIS?!" Prayer is not picked up as a weapon of warfare to prepare for victory, but the prelude to an impending disaster. The message is simple and clear. When people finally have to turn things over to God, and depend on Him to do something about it, then things must be really be out of control.
The Risen Christ walked for 40 days among His followers. His final words pointed His disciples to pray and wait for what only God could do. They would wait for ten days before they received The Promise of The Father. In the grand scheme of things, this was a short stint in God's waiting room. Even then, they had a difficult time staying on mission. Any kind of delay usually causes people to doubt God is going to really come through.
One of the more repeated maxims of Christianity is, "God is never late. He is always on time." I would suggest that there should be an addendum to this. "He is seldom early." Waiting on God is an exercise in believing in the dark what you knew to be true in the light. Doubting in the dark usually leads to some form of despondency. The picture of the disciples gathered in the upper room is a tremendous encouragement to me. They obeyed the last thing Jesus told them to do, and God honored their dependency on Him. They were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
Prayer has a way of turning despondency into desperation. That is a good thing. Desperation is not the same thing as despondency. Gasping for air, and sighing in despair are too different things. One leads to the victory of new life, the other wanders into the tall grass that hides the trap of victimization. When the disciples gathered in the upper room to face life without the Presence of the Risen Christ, they received the Presence of His Spirit. The same thing happens in the lives of believers today. Jesus promised that He would not leave His followers without a Comforter. The Comforter who comes to Christ followers is not a "baby blankie" for hopelessly despondent people. The Comforter brings an invasion of the character of Christ into the lives of people desperate for a courageous change that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
The key to victory is found in the desperate realization of our true condition. The safest place in the world is when we come to the place in life marked by the sign, "All we can do now is pray!"