Wrestling with God (Part 4)
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.
(Habakkuk 1:2-4, New Living Translation)
This is the first of three prayers the prophet prays in the short book. Last time, we discussed the complaints he makes. Now, I would like us to take a quick look at what we can learn from the prayer itself. There are two things I would like to point out.
- Prayer is not new to Habakkuk. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help?” I think this makes it clear that the prophet has a regular prayer life. He has brought this to God many times. In fact, his prayer life seems like it is a regular event; he seems comfortable speaking freely to God, as if they have a close relationship. Do I feel close enough to God to speak freely to him, as if he were a close friend? How about you? So often, when we are suffering or we are going through something that seems unfair, we try everything we can to take care of the situation. When it continues, we say, “I guess all I can do now is pray.” We see prayer as a last resort. But prayer was not a last resort for Habakkuk. It wasn’t what he did when he could not handle the situation. It was how he handled the situation.
- Habakkuk does not pray for his own relief, but he prays on behalf of the people. At no point in his prayer does he selfishly. I don’t mean to say we should not pray for our own needs. We should. But we should also lift up our brothers and sisters. We need to be praying on behalf of others. I believe that as we make a habit of being unselfish in our prayer life, we will begin to live more unselfish lives. Just one more reason to pray for others.
How about your prayer life? Can you speak freely with God? Is prayer a last resort or a regular part of your life? Do you have a selfish prayer life? Are there other things we can learn from Habakkuk’s prayer? Leave your thoughts in the comments.