Let’s be honest. If I wanted to hide, I wouldn’t stick a hundred hedge clippers in the ground and crouch behind them, I’d find a cave or a big rock and hunker down. If I wanted to protect my skull from fracture, I wouldn’t duct tape a bunch of putty knives to my scalp, I’d get a helmet.
Just like it makes no sense to use hedge clippers as a wall or putty knives as a hat, it makes no sense to reduce my prayers to a defensive tactic – a flurry of words to ward off doom – when they are intended to be a powerful connection with an Almighty God.
Sadly, I do this regularly.
Here’s an example: My daughter was having surgery one day last week and I asked everyone I could think of to pray for her. Neither her life nor her long term health was in danger, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way I was storming the gates of Heaven with my petitions. I was cowering before God, asking Him to protect her, calm her, make her recovery swift and complete. And I guess I was hoping that if enough people joined in and echoed my concerns, the numbers might impress Him and He might decide to act. Have you ever done that?
After the surgery, she was in pain for days and the only time I felt I could relax and not worry about her was NOT when I was praying – which would have been the good Christian approach – but when the doctor was with her and reassuring me she was healing just fine. I had faith that she was safe in the hands of the doctor but apparently I didn’t rest in the knowledge that she was even safer in the arms of the Great Physician.
I pray and pray about things, fearing that if I stop, things will get worse. It’s as if deep down, I don’t think I’m really going to get a positive answer from God; I’m just trying to hold disaster at bay. Do I think my volley of words-words-words can do that?
I frantically keep it up, repeating the same requests over and over. If I were of another faith tradition, I might be lighting candles, chanting mantras, or flailing myself with a stick. And I would be no more successful in personally controlling the outcome than if I said or did nothing.
My lack of faith astounds me. And even worse is the way my actions insult God by implying He isn’t good; that He can’t be trusted.
We use the term “prayer warrior”, because our prayers are an offensive weapon – against evil, apathy, and pain. Our prayers can DO something, not just KEEP something from happening.
I want to be humble in my prayers, accepting that the outcome of all I pray for is ultimately in God’s hands and that He is good. But I don’t want to be shrinking and sobbing, fearing the worst. I devalue my own prayers when I do that; I want to be confident that God is trustworthy.
I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma, am I?
Every Friday I have a standing phone “date” with my Dad, always my go-to spiritual resource and mentor. I asked him what he thought about this . . . this apparent lack of faith, this weakness of mine. You know what he told me?
“Honey, the Devil can’t take away your eternal salvation- that is assured – but he can mess with your witness and make you miserable. He can make you doubt and worry and take your focus off God. That’s when you run into problems like this. Just keep your eyes on God. He’s always glad to hear from you, even when you’re wringing your hands. I’m sure He just wishes you wouldn’t worry about things He already has under control.”
That’s the key. Stop letting the Enemy get me in a ditch with his foot on my neck. Keep my focus on God, not on myself or my need to control things. Remember that my prayers are a strong connection to the One who has already won the battle and longs to comfort me, not a desperate deflecting tactic from a position of weakness. I have no reason to be fatalistic when I have all of Heaven on my side.
Can you relate to this? Feel free to weigh in with your comments below.