And he spake a parable unto them to this end,
that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
Do you remember situations in your life when you were faint? Webster’s dictionary describes the word “faint” as implying the following; lacking strength, weak, languid, to sink into dejection, to lose courage or spirit. The NIV translates this word as to “give up.” I suspect that nearly everyone has had at least one if not numerous times in their life when the desire to give up or to become faint has occurred. The causes may be multiple for such an occurrence. I recall distinctly a time in my life when I was working three jobs one summer between the second and third years of medical school. I was in debt. The school would not loan money for the first two years and I was trying to earn enough to start the third year. I worked in a laboratory at Kansas University Medical School during the day, sold shoes at Burts in downtown Kansas City on Monday evening and Saturdays and drove a taxi cab from nine in the evening until three in the morning every Friday and Saturday night. I was not only burning the candle at both ends; I was burning it in the middle as well. About mid July it all came crashing down with a spirit of dejection, fatigue and I wanted to “give up” And that is what I did. I called the shoe store and the cab company the next day and quit both jobs. In this instance, excessive work responsibilities led to my becoming faint.
Years later I was in a practice of Internal Medicine and Pulmonary disease with additional responsibilities and commitments to individuals in the Navigators organization as well as with World Impact. Many of these commitments involved some spiritual oversight and the load began to produce a desire to “give up.” Fortunately, at this time in my life, I had become aware of the Lord’s words in Luke 18:1 and realized that there are only two choices in life. One is to pray. The other is to faint or ”give up.” If I pray, I will not faint. If I faint, it is because I have not been in prayer.
The importance of this was driven home to me recently as I observed the life of a brother in Christ. He had responsibilities and commitments far greater than most of us and burdens for others which were immense. These gradually began to wear him down. As we talked, I became aware of our need to pray together so that neither of us would “faint”or “give up.”
God has not designed us to carry all the burdens of others. We are not equipped to do that. Their material and spiritual needs are overwhelming. We see so many with deep needs and we can do so little. Even the little we can do often is reversed by their decisions or circumstances over which they have no control. We have a vision and a desire to help them but we do not see progress. We need to learn to do what we can and then move on. For a number of years I would have weekends when I would visit and help manage up to seventy patients per day in the hospital in the city where I practiced. At least half of these were on ventilators in intensive care units. My only hope of survival and ability to take care of the next patient was to realize as I left each room that I had done what I could. I would then entrust everything else into the hands of the Lord and move on to the next patient. The Lord describes something similar to this when he tells us the following in I Peter 5:7. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (KJV)
What does this process look like? How do we cast our cares on Him? Lorne Sanny once remarked that when he came to work in the mornings he would find a stack of problems that were represented by a pile of papers and notes on his desk. One by one, he would say “Lord, I am convinced that you are able to take care of all these problems by yourself. I would like to ask you to do that. Now, if there is anything you want me to do, just prompt me and I will do it.” This describes a method of casting your care upon Him that I have found helpful over the years. Our first, and it may be our only, responsibility is to pray. This prayer includes asking the Lord to provide for others, to accomplish His work in their lives, as well as asking the Lord to show us what He wants us to do. They are the Lord’s children, not ours. He is the chief Shepherd. He is the One who will take care of them. They are ultimately His burden, not ours. Lorne once asked a small group, of which I was a part, to write down on a piece of paper every concern, including every person or situation that we carried as a burden on one side of the sheet of paper. On the other side we were to write down I Peter 5:7. We would then pray about each item, casting it solely on Him, and moving that care from our shoulder to His.
In Luke 18:1, the Lord has described for us two paths, two doors, two choices for our lives each day. We can either pray, or we can give up. We can either faint, or we can cast our cares on Him. It is my prayer that you will choose the path of prayer, the door that leads to his throne where we can cast all our cares on Him.
In Christ, Richard Spann