Saturday, August 7, 2010

The power of prayer

I was reading a post from Mrs K. on the topic of prayer. Interesting, as this topic has been a popular one among my friends and family as of late. I have a few pet peeves when it comes to prayer and what makes it worse is that I myself do the very things that I find so annoying.

The first one I'll address is that we tend to hit our knees when life gets rough. When the storms roll in that is when people tend to pick up their prayer life. Now just to clarify before you get mad at me, I believe that prayer is the BEST thing for weathering a storm. There is no greater thing you can for a person then to pray for them. The problem is, and hear me on this.... I am not innocent here, I am just as guilty as the next person. The problem is that for a lot of us, this period of storms is the only time we have a consistent prayer life. I imagine that the Creator of the Universe does not like to be called upon just as a problem solver. You don't, I don't, so why do we think He would??? You... and I forget that God isn't just sitting up there waiting to fix things. He wants relationships. He is your, my Father and from my experience dad's don't like to be called upon only when I'm in need of something. Of course He will always be there, He never leaves and loves that we turn to Him in our times of need. It is good to realize that He can fix things, that He is one who gives peace, comfort, and love when we need it the most. 

The next one is related and lately it's the one I find myself doing a whole lot... isn't it frustrating to struggle with something that just annoys the mess out of you!?! How much time do you spend in prayer asking God for something... or using the word I maybe followed by the word want?? You probably don't notice it... I urge you pay attention for the next week. Although you might get really annoyed at yourself because you do it more then you think. I have been trying for at least the last 6 months to really work on my prayer habits. It's been rather difficult to do. I find that I have spells where I do really well and then I go a while with barely spending anytime in prayer. My suspicion is that the enemy works really hard to distract me from this because prayer is a dangerous tool and if I develop good prayer habits the enemy has to work twice as hard. Which should be great motivation for me to get it I tend to use the time I spend in the car driving to and from work to prayer. Lately I realize that I spend an awful lot of that time praying for myself... which isn't all bad. However, I think that there has to be a balance... and maybe, just maybe..... my prayers for others should outweigh the prayers for myself.

My fear is that we are a generation and are raising generations that underestimate the power of prayer. Sure prayer is still (at least I hope it is) something we do out of habit before meals, with kids before bed, and in our church services. Those habits aren't the problem... problems arise when this is all we do. It stays just a habit and often we get complacent. Again I think that the enemy tries really hard to convince us that the little bit of prayer that we do is plenty. He wants us to think that prayer is just another thing to put on a checklist. 

Prayer is far more important then we realize it is. I am fortunate to go to a church that is slowly learning that and it is amazing to watch. I have learned a lot about how to pray from our pastors as our whole church body seeks to grow in this area. I am very blessed to go to a church that believes in prayer and is seeking to understand it more.

I think that we tend to underestimate this power. When storms come, sure we pray for God's help, guidance, peace, but then we go about seeking to find the solution, often forgetting to listen for and answer to our prayer. Scripture says that if we seek Him, we will find Him. If we ask for guidance it will come, but not always when we think it should. Far too often we ask... then fail to wait for an answer. A lot of times the answer comes later because God wants to us to realize that sometimes we have to wait for an answer. I think we, especially us Americans, fail to hear answers to prayer because we are far too impatient. We live in an on-demand culture, everything we need and want is right at our fingertips and we rarely have to wait for anything. God never has, doesn't, and never will comply with our on-demand way of life. God does not revolve around man. Man revolves around Him and it is this concept that we humans fail to understand. Prayer isn't simply a way to communicate to God what it is that we need or want. Prayer is about communication... its a way for us to connect with Him. It's a way for us to build our relationship with Him, a way to grow closer to Him so that we might know how serve Him better... not the other way around.

Well how about that for a soapbox? That wasn't my intention but oh well, guess I needed to get that off my chest.

 Anyways... back to post I There was a quote in the post that I really like and need to ponder on for a bit.
“If we trust in the sovereignty of God, we wrestle our way to peace in the knowledge that if an answer to prayer is for our highest good, the God who loves us will not withhold it.”
– Lana Bateman
 I'm not sure I like how its worded for our better good though. If the word "good" there is referring to us become more like Christ then I agree. The very best thing for myself is to be empty of self and full of Christ. (Are you following me?? Cuz if I ever get to theological for you tell me. Really... we Seminary students forget that not everyone reads theology books for pleasure) So if an answer to prayer is what will ultimately bring me closer to Christ then yes, I believe that God will not withhold if from us. The thing that we don't realize is that God is in the business of holiness... not happiness. (Remember that His def of happiness and ours are usually pretty different) What I perceive that Bateman is trying to tell us here is that sometimes God answers prayers in a way that makes us upset, hurt, sad, even angry. We have to trust that our God, who is without a shadow of a doubt sovereign, has the very best in mind for us. That He knows that the way things are going will ultimately lead us closer to Him. I like that she uses the word wrestle to peace here. Our Father doesn't think that it will easy to accept when He answers in ways like this. He understands that we are not sovereign and allows us room to wrestle our way to find peace in His decision. We must trust in His love.

God has really been testing my prayer life lately... many friends and family going through some really big storms lately. If you get a chance say a prayer for my sister, and for a wife/mother of three who is dying of cancer (good news is that last Sat she gave her life to Christ..PTL!!! We have been praying for this for months.... God answers prayer!!!). Thank you so much for the prayers that have already been lifted up. You guys are a blessing from above.

1 comment:

Mrs. K said...

Thanks for the plug :) As far as the quote goes, I think you nailed it. What I think Bateman meant was that God does what is best for us whether we like the outcome or not. He uses certain situations to teach us and to make us stronger.