I heard someone bemoaning certain issues the other day and after a while they concluded “All we can do is pray.” Over the years I have heard that catch phrase a lot and I think that there is a general misunderstanding about prayer. We too often think of prayer as casually tossing something to God or maybe even passionately and urgently laying something at His feet beseeching Him to change a situation. Having pled our case, we stand up, wipe our hands and walk away. Now, please hear me. I believe in prayer. I have seen some wonderful answers to prayer. (There are always answers to prayer, we usually only consider those answers to be wonderful if the answer is what we want! But that is another post.) As I was saying, I believe in prayer. Prayer changes things, we should pray. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7
Phil 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer is a good thing, an effectual thing. It can bring us peace to the burdens and concerns on our hearts. I think though that too often we drop off our list and walk away and there is no real peace because we have the wrong idea about prayer. Prayer is not meant to align God’s will up with ours but rather to line ours up with God’s. Praying is like throwing a lasso around a mountain. We can pull and pull as hard as we want but we will never pull the mountain closer to us. We can however pull ourselves closer to the mountain.
I know we get told “let go and let God” and I understand the sentiment behind that expression. But there are some things that we are burdened with that we shouldn’t just give to God in prayer and then walk away. If we do, we won’t have that peace that Paul talks about because God will not give us that peace and nothing will change because God placed that burden on our heart so that we might be His instrument affecting the change. He drove us to Him in prayer not so that we could just drop off our burden, wipe our hands and walk away but so that we might be equipped, encouraged and inspired to deal with that burden and allow Him to affect the change through us!
It’s true. God condescends to use us in this world to reveal His mercy, His comfort, His truth, His love, His goodness, His righteousness, His justice and any number of other attributes. The Almighty receives great glory by using weak, flawed, mistake prone people like you and me….people who need and have a Savior.
Burdened about starving children? Yes pray for them, but how can you directly help them through giving or serving in some worthwhile organization?
Have a heart for single moms? Is there a ministry at your church or in your community where you can help? Is there such an individual in your sphere of influence that you can reach out to?
Worried about a relationship that is on the skids? Have you prayed and asked the Lord to help you have the necessary conversation with that other person? Do you need to seek or offer forgiveness?
Worried about the decline of attendance in your church? Do you call people you haven’t seen in a while, do you embrace, engage and welcome visitors, do you consider yourself to be on mission in your community?
Whatever problems, burdens or worries you have, you should let them drive you to God in prayer. Prayer is how we communicate with our heavenly Father, share our burdens, cast our cares upon Him and line ourselves up with His will. We receive peace and answers.
Yes, prayer changes things. And God still works miracles and yes, sometimes He moves mountains. But perhaps the biggest miracle is that when I pray, He often moves me.