“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15-17).

Philip Yancey admits that although we may live and breathe and have our being in God, his personal awareness of God’s presence is sometimes “as fickle as the weather.” Some things, such as beauty in nature and encounters with authentic believers, freed Yancey’s faith. Other things, such as God’s seeming silence and inaction despite the world’s endless atrocities, feed his doubts. Sometimes, we may ponder why we pray—especially when we don’t feel we’re “connecting” with God, or when we pray earnestly and our prayers appear unanswered. Countless reasons keep us from prayer, and countless discouragements create all sorts of questions about prayer.

Yancey says that if he had to answer the question “Why pray?” in one sentence, it would be, “Because Jesus did!” The communication between Jesus and his heavenly Father was constant. It was the source of his marching orders and his powerful sense of identity. We’re invited to have that same sort of communication, to get our marching orders and identity as beloved children of the Father. At the same time, we must recognize that prayer is steeped in mystery and is far more like great literature than mathematics. The familiar question, “What would Jesus do?” might first be answered by knowing that he would pray. Yancey writes of Jesus, “While here on earth, he became vulnerable, as we are vulnerable; rejected, as we are rejected; and tested, as we are tested. In every case, his response was prayer.” Turn to the Father when you are vulnerable, distressed and anxious. He loves you and waits to hear from you.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement