Bridge Over Troubled Waters
There is my favourite song. It is called Bridge Over Troubled Waters. The words are so beautiful.
When you’re weary
When tears are in your eyes
I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
Oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Originally there were two verses and they added another verse because it was too short and also because they wanted to tone it down the religious sentiment.
It was written by Paul Simon and sung by Art Garfunkel. Paul Simon was inspired by the gospel songs he was listening at that time. New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint said,
That song had two writers: Paul Simon and God.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. That is what God will do when we pray.
No one takes it (life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. (John 10:18)
God will give us a place where we can hide. He will carry us, he will comfort us.
James said this today.
Is any one of you in trouble? He/she should pray. (James 5:13)
I hear stories of suffering. Many times I feel helpless. I don’t know what to do for them. In many cases actually, there is nothing that I can do. But I can pray for them. They have become so weak and vulnerable because of their suffering that they cannot even pray. So, we can pray for them.
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Righteousness and Prayer
You may hesitate because you feel that you are not righteous enough. Don’t think about your spiritual and moral qualification too much. You can never pray. No one is righteous, St. Paul said. No one feels confident enough to say that I am righteous. But praying for others itself is a righteous behaviour. How beautiful it is to pray for other people! Who will care about other people? This world defines itself by envy and competition. We don’t agree with that when we pray. We define ourselves by love and care. Not competition but compassion. This world tries to divide and conquer, to isolate and eliminate. We don’t agree with that when we pray. We seek to unite and serve, to include and be a friend. As the song says, when friends just can’t be found, we become friends by praying for them. We may not be friends whom we play with but we will be friends who will support them through our prayers.
Praying for somebody is the most beautiful thing we human beings can do. God sees that. God appreciates that. God puts smile on his face, when he sees us praying for each other. God wants us to live our lives praying for each other. God will answer our prayer just to teach us how much he wants that from us. That’s why our Lord Jesus gave us this wonderful promise.
Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7, 8)
When we pray, we will be able to find peace that comes from confidence. Whenever I face troubles and uncertainties of life, I have learned to pray. I have two choices. One – I can worry and build up anxiety within me. Two – I can try to solve the situation with my own effort. In both cases, I found this. If I build up anxiety within me, it will take me to a darker place. If I try to deal with the situation with my own effort, I will become manipulative. I have chosen to pray. God gives me calm confidence. God will either take care of the situation or let me know what to do.
Prayer has to be built in in our life. From the smallest thing to the most serious thing, we need to do everything in prayer. Don’t think that you have to be so religious to pray. That will dispirit you. Don’t think that you have to be so good to pray. That will demoralize you. Just think that prayer is very much a human thing to do.
We human beings are so weak and vulnerable. Often, what we have to deal with is beyond our ability. Then we have no choice but to fall into helplessness and hopelessness. But God is gracious and therefore he gave us the gift of prayer. So instead of falling into helplessness and hopelessness, we can pray. God will show us a way out.
When we pray, we don’t control the outcome. If we already have the outcome we want, that is not prayer. Of course, we can express our desires and our wishes. But leaving everything in God’s hands – that is what prayer is. That was Jesus’ prayer.
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
Jesus expressed his desire and his wish. But he didn’t demand the outcome he wanted. He said, “not my will but yours be done.” He left it in God’s hands. He left his life in God’s hands.
That is very important in prayer. If you try to control the outcome, then you lose the whole purpose of your prayer. You won’t experience the power of prayer. Prayer is leaving everything in God’s hands. But unfortunately, I don’t see that kind of prayer often. Jesus didn’t get the result he wanted. But his prayer was the most beautiful prayer. He didn’t get what he wanted but his prayer made God’s will be done.
When we leave everything in God’s hands, we experience peace and we see bigger things. What we see is very limited because we are small. When we pray, God takes us into a bigger world and allows us to see bigger things in life. Through prayer, our life opens up.
Suffering and Prayer
Last Friday, in our study on Acts 1, we examined how the early Christians waited and prayed. When they waited praying, they received the Holy Spirit and saw the bigger world. They were able to do things beyond their ability. Our waiting is not mere waiting. It is not waste. Our waiting is our prayer. It is time for new life to be created.
When suffering strikes us, it hurts us. It gives us pain. It takes away our confidence. It makes us feel helpless and hopeless. But do you know what is the most difficult? More than anything else, it takes God’s presence away from us. It makes us FEEL that God is not with us anymore. It makes us feel that God does not care about us. It makes us feel that God is nowhere around us. That’s what suffering does. It takes away the sense of God’s presence. That is what Job felt when suffering him him.
If I go forward, he is not there;
or backward, I cannot perceive him;
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. (Job 23:8, 9)
That’s what suffering does to us. But God never leaves us alone in our suffering and in our darkness. God is right there. We just don’t feel that God is there because suffering blocks our view.
So, this tells us something about prayer. We cannot pray just with our feeling. Don’t depend on your feeling when you pray. Sometimes we don’t feel God. Even though Job could not feel God anywhere, he didn’t give up. Right after he said that he couldn’t see God anywhere, this was what he said.
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. (Job 23:10)
Job did not depend on how he felt. He depended on what God would do. Prayer is not about how we feel. Prayer is about what God does. Job had the confidence that God knew his way better than he himself knew. God would make Job come out like gold. Job had confidence not in himself, not even in his prayer. But he had confidence in God and God alone. That is what prayer is – Having confidence in God and God alone.
God knows our way better than we know our own way. God knows what is the best for us. That’s why we pray.
So, pray and leave everything in God’s hands. Not only you will experience peace and calmness, you will see God’s wonderful way of working in your life. That’s when you are amazed at God. That’s when your faith is formed. That’s when God becomes real to you.