Prayer has always been difficult for me. It’s not that I don’t believe that it’s ineffective of that God’s somehow not listening, it’s just that I think of praying most of the time as a last resort. A few years back, my wife and I were talking about a recurring problem that had not been resolved, and she concluded by saying, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to pray about it.” My pastor brother-in-law Al, who was visiting and listening in, smiled and said with an ironic smile, “You mean it’s come to that!” We all laughed at the humor, but it left an impression on me. As I grow older, I find I am praying more, not because I have more time on my hands, but because it has become clearer to me that prayer needs to encompass my entire day… really my entire life. Here’s what I am reminded of when it comes to prayer:
- Prayer gets my focus right… onto God and off myself and my personal problems. This is the perspective that I continually need to make the everyday decisions of my life.
- Prayer allows me to remember to be thankful. I like to think I’m a thankful person, but prayer allows me to exercise that thankfulness and benefit from the reminders of God’s continual goodness.
- Prayer centers me on the important and allows me to not be distracted by the trivial. When I pray for an extended time I am reminded that there are issues that matter and issues that should just be lived with.
- Prayer allows me to see God’s power at work. Jesus gave a parable where he reminded his followers that they should pray and not lose heart… the Parable of the Unjust Judge. A powerless widow repeatedly asks a judge to intervene to the point where she is practically harassing him. He gives in… prayer is a reminder that I need God’s power and intervention.
- Prayer allows me to grow closer to God. People who communicate regularly usually grow closer. Prayer draws me into an active relationship with the One who created the universe.
Two weeks ago my son-in-law was hospitalized with a serious illness. He was out of town and my daughter had to fly half way across the country to be with him. After days of not enough improvement and great frustration, he had reached a place where he didn’t know how long he would have to be in the hospital. One evening, after talking through the dilemma, I decided to ask for prayer from my Facebook friends (I was desperate!). 24 hours later, after over 450 people had responded they were praying, Justin had a complete turn-around and was able to fly home the next day. I am not just thankful, I’m reminded that all power and grace come from Him who is our rock and our salvation. And it’s a reminder to keep those prayers going!