Who among us hasn’t wondered about the role of prayer in the overall scheme of things? Almost no one turns down an offer of prayer in a crisis, but why do we pray when God already knows what He’s going to do? Can we change His mind? What’s different about prayers offered silently and in private, versus praying aloud with others?
For all these questions about prayer there are surely an equal number of deep theological responses (which I for sure don’t have). But I find there’s beauty in wrestling with our uncertainty and lovely things to discover about our God as we communicate with Him.
Here’s an example from just this week: I attended a quarterly prayer meeting at my church and as the spoken prayers of others flowed around me, I found encouragement for reasons I hadn’t expected. It had to do with a kind of upside-down phenomenon that broke the mold of my (and others’) expectations.
- A young man prayed for his grandmother to come to faith. (Don’t grandmothers usually pray for errant grandsons—and granddaughters?)
- A daughter prayed for her mother’s heart to soften toward God. (Aren’t mothers usually found praying this for their daughters?)
- A pastor prayed for his own father’s salvation. (Don’t pastors generally come from “religious” families?)
- A seminary student prayed for the many on her campus who are far from God. (Aren’t these students the ones preparing for lives in service to the God they already know ?)
The prayers ran the gamut: cries for healing and courage, freedom from fear, comfort for the lonely, opportunities to serve, pleas for patience, requests for humility. There were prayers for total strangers—and for those estranged.
In it all was a surprising and clarifying freshness. It was humbling that the people we sometimes think need prayer the most are the ones stepping up and petitioning God with power on behalf of others, while some we may think are more “squared away” need prayer as much as anyone.
From this unusual perspective, it’s clear that God is not confined by our preconceived notions or assumptions about how and on what terms He engages. God is moving in our world today as He pleases, not as we prescribe, and possibly in surprising ways. He is meeting people right where they are, and raising up a new generation to pray for those who need Him most, whoever and wherever they are.
It was also oh-so-evident to me that night that effective prayer doesn’t require a degree in theology or a how-to book from a well-known pastor. It springs from a soft heart and even the tiniest pinpoint of faith. There was something fortifying about recognizing we all struggle in similar ways and need God equally.
Though others may think us weak, in God’s hands none of us are. We are told that He chooses those the world calls weak to confound the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). With God, “weakness” is anything but!
I will never understand Him and that’s okay. What I can know with certainty is that He is creative and good and His love can be trusted.
And that He chooses to answer prayer.
If you’d like to receive an email when I publish new posts, just click the “sign up” button in the right sidebar above (or if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll find it below under “visit full site”.) I’ll send you a link to my free (really short) eBook, Harmony Is Hard: Humans Are Involved just for signing up.
- Maybe This Will Help - February 10, 2017
- I’m Firing Olivia Pope - January 24, 2017
- I’m crossing some things off my list this year - January 11, 2017
- I learned a new word - November 30, 2016
- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016