Chapter three of Habakkuk marks a distinct change in the movement of the book. Prior to chapter three, Habakkuk (the prophet) has been doing a lot of questioning of God and in an extremely blunt manner, he lets God know specifically what he thinks about how God is moving and working. God then answers Habakkuk, reminding the prophet that God knows more and sees more than he does.
Chapter three then moves into Habakkuk’s response, where he says, “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” In fact, verse one of chapter three defines this response as “a prayer of Habakkuk.” The point is that Habakkuk learns that his prayers matter to God.
This got me to thinking about prayer. Prayer is one of those disciplines that I have heard about and practiced my entire life, but I feel as though I still don’t understand it. I see stories in the Bible of men like Habakkuk who were witnessing great trouble and pain but they seek the Lord in prayer and God works on their behalf in unusual ways. It makes me wonder if I’m praying wrong or if God viewed them differently than He does me.
Normally, this is where I would take the Scriptures and explain what they say about our topic and give us a couple points of application to help us obey. However, I can’t do that with this topic because I don’t understand it and it confuses me. So here is my approach, I’m going to list several verses and challenge you to consider and pray through them, so that God might settle our souls collectively on the issue of praying to Him.
Psalm 42:1-2 - As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 63:1-4 - O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Colossians 4:2 - Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Hebrews 4:14-16 - Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Matthew 6:5-15 - “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
My prayer is that God will takes these selections of Scripture and teach us how to pray, so that like Habakkuk, our anxiety filled soul might experience the peace of God.