Doug Carver, executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board, spoke in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) on Oct. 22 to share his heart for prayer.
Carver served in the U.S. Army for 38 years, 27 of them as a chaplain, before retiring in 2011 and joining the North American Mission Board in 2012.
Carver began with the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. He highlighted the widow’s perseverance in asking the judge again and again to give her justice against her adversary. Though the judge did not fear God, he eventually gave her what she asked for so she would stop bothering him.
“The widow is rewarded for her persistence,” Carver said. “How much more will God help his own?”
Carver went on to explain the importance of this kind of continual prayer in a world that constantly wears people down. He defined prayer as intimate communion with God and challenged the audience not to let the difficulties they face keep them from that communion.
“Life has a way of wearing us out,” Carver said. “We are not to allow the struggles of this world to prevent us from praying.”
Carver gave several examples of men from the Bible who cried out to God from places of weariness and desperation including Moses in Exodus 33, Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and David in Psalm 13.
The most important example, however, is Jesus. He faced the same struggles and even death, but he stayed intimately connected to the Father from beginning to end.
“Even as He [Jesus] goes to the cross and hangs there, numerous prayers come out of His mouth,” Carver said.
This is the kind of communion God desires to have with us, and it comes with a promise.
“The reward of prayer from God is that He keeps us from getting weary and worn out,” Carver said. “We can soar on wings like eagles in this weary world.”
Carver continued by challenging the audience to consider what kind of faith Jesus will find when he comes back. “If we are not praying today, what makes you think we will be praying when Jesus returns?” he asked.
“Let us not be so busy about the Lord’s business that we neglect the most important thing we can do: pray,” Carver said.
To close, Carver quoted an excerpt from the journal of Jim Elliot who wrote, “Father, make me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
“My prayer for this wonderful seminary is that we would be forks for all the days of our lives,” Carver said.
To watch this sermon online, please click here.
To view photos from chapel, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.