Prayer and the Fear of Death

Prayer and the Fear of Death

Pastor Robert Zemke

I sat down to enjoy a football game on Monday Night while I cleaned up emails and did a little work. Early on in the game I noticed someone was down on the field at the end of one play. I did not initially see what happened since everyone got up after the play but the replay showed Damar Hamlin had collapsed after standing up. Soon the seriousness of his condition was realized by everyone watching, and I started to pray – like many others around the nation. (He had a cardiac arrest and is still in critical condition). This entertainment escape soon became a viewing of someone’s life hanging in the balance on live TV. It made me think of our short life on earth and how we spend our time. Recreation is a form of distraction from worries and concerns of the day that is needed at times, yet we will never entirely escape the need to pray for others and the fear of death that is always present.   


This past week Pele, the greatest soccer player to ever live, the Pope, and Barbara Walters all passed away. Death or the fear of death puts things in perspective. I recently officiated a funeral in which a poem was read that stated, “Why cry for a soul set free?” Those who know Jesus have a glorious destination. Many people, family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors cannot say that – their soul is set free. We can pray for those who may not know the extraordinary grace of our Lord that has set us free from our sins so that we can spend eternity with him.


At the beginning of each year, many recommit to the spiritual practice of prayer. This practice is not an obligation but a commitment to the privilege of speaking with the Lord of the Universe, the lover of my soul. This is not an obligation but a privilege. It is an opportunity to take advantage of the doors open to us because of Jesus's death and resurrection. Ole Hallesby, in his book on prayer, states, "And he himself would like to gain access to our distress in order to help us. But he cannot gain admittance until we "open the door," that is, until we in prayer give him an opportunity to intervene.”


You might think that you are a novice in prayer but God does not want your expertise. He wants you to seek him. Richard Foster says, "Jesus reminds us that prayer is a little like children coming to their parents. Our children come to us with the craziest requests at times. Often we are grieved by the meanness and selfishness in their requests, but we would be all the more grieved if they never came to us even with their meanness and selfishness. We are simply glad that they do come- mixed motives and all.”


As you grow in your prayer life, God's word promises in James that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).