Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises....(James 5:13)
Everywhere you look today, people are in despair. There is so much hopelessness and fear out there, that sometimes even God's people wonder "does He really care"? Well, yes, He does and more than we realize. More than anyone else, Christians who are walking in the Will of God, have the true Hope which lives within, and that is more than sufficient.
We wonder sometimes how the saints in persecuted lands like the Middle East and China do it, and how come there are more Christians in these countries than the US and Europe combined.....and the answer you will always get is - PRAYER! Pastor/Author David Platt is now the director of the Southern Baptist Convention's huge International Missions Board (IMB) which has been taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He is one fired up man of God for missions and especially intrigued by the underground churches in China. In one of his studies, while he was pastor of the largest church in Birmingham, Alabama, he recounted an experience when he visited one of those "secret churches" to fellowship with them.
These precious saints met in a private basement and always began their hours long service/bible study with as much prayer as they deemed necessary to get them through this particular night. David Platt said they were face down on the cold concrete floor praying, pleading and crying out for what appeared to be over two hours. When they finally arose from being prostrate on the floor before God, there were literal puddles of tears on the floor. These saints are suffering under persecution by the atheist communist party. By the way, latest figures have shown that the amount of Christians in China far outnumber members of the Chinese communist party! Our brethren in the Middle East are suffering out in the open as we see from the news almost daily. Many pastors and believers are also imprisoned in the islamic republic of iran. Yet they pray and rejoice. Pastor Saeed, the well-known American pastor has led over 30 to Christ in prison, as recently recounted.
But what about suffering here? There are many suffering not just hopelessness as to the future, but genuine fear about every single thing in life. We wonder about our children and will they even have the freedom to worship God and live out a life of faith like their forefathers. We wonder about health and finances and family. If you read the obituaries in the daily newspaper or even online, you will see more and more more young people from their teens to their early 50's leaving this earth at an alarming rate! What could be the cause of that? Then if you read some of the content written about their lives, it should shock any follower of Christ into questioning how we could allow so many young (and older) people to die without Christ in their lives. People are known by their fruit and the descriptions of some of these poor souls are absolutely astoundingly vacant and one is scared to ponder what their eternity will be.
King David, even in the depths of despair, wandering and doubt, yet never stopped praying. The anointed and inspired Psalms of the Bible gave us most of his prayers to Almighty God, His Redeemer. Here was the anointed King of Israel (anointed by God, no less) yet, he was on the run for almost 14 years and a king without a throne. But pray, he knew he must and sacrifice to the Lord, even when he was in thirst, he did!
There is no bigger act of not just praise with his mouth and heart, but by his actions than this account from 2 Samuel 23(15-17): "David had a craving and said, "Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!" So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD; and he said, "Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" Therefore he would not drink it".
Was David suffering? YES! Saul was trying to kill him and kept chasing him with an army all over the countryside. He had no place to call home. He had no regular food supply or warm bed....nothing. Yet, he prayed....and when (as in this passage) his Mighty Men brought back what must have been the 'gourmet water' of the day and it cheered him - King David praised!
Therefore, we have two things here - David asked - the Lord supplied the great tasting water - it blessed David's heart and he gave it back to the Lord. When we are in dire straits, as this man of God obviously was, we have the formula from the Scriptures, pray and praise like David did! It really is this simple, for the man or woman of God!