Gratitude, Day 13—Prayer

I’ve written from time to time about prayer (other articles include this and this, but there are more), but I still don’t really understand it.

My atheist friends keep asking about answered prayer, as if getting what we pray for would prove that God exists. I’ve tried to explain that asking God for stuff isn’t really what prayer is about, but I haven’t been able to articulate it clearly. It always sounds so nebulous.

And still, I’m so thankful for prayer.

I have to wonder, what would I do for a friend who is having surgery if I couldn’t pray for her? What would I do for a family that is in danger from the California wildfires, if I couldn’t pray for them? What would I do for someone who just lost a loved one if I couldn’t pray for him?

I am so grateful I don’t have to find out. The very idea of prayer means I can bring all the stuff I’m concerned about to God. Somehow, trusting Him to work, however He chooses, is far more important than “getting what I want.”

Then Sunday, the pastor who preached, gave a wonderful example from our study in the book of John, tying it with 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

The incident recorded in John relates the first known public miracle Jesus performed—turning water into wine. In this case the “prayer” was Mary’s as she came to Jesus with the problem. Someone else’s problem, our pastor added; she wasn’t just praying for what she needed but for what others needed.

The “prayer” itself was simply a statement of the problem. Mary didn’t precede to tell Jesus how she thought He should handle the circumstance. “They’re out of wine, Jesus. Do you think you could have a couple of Your disciples take a cart to the farm down the road and buy some wine from them. Of course, we’ll need to take up a collection first so that we have enough money to pay for it. Maybe you should send two others to the farm just beyond that neighbor, just in case. After all, we want to be sure it’s enough this time.”

No, Mary, left the problem in Jesus’s hands so that He could solve it as He saw fit. What He chose to do was surprising and abundant and beyond what the steward expected: the wine was the best of the feast—far better than was usually served at the end of such an event.

How often do we Christians dictate to God what He should do for us when we pray, rather than presenting Him with the problem and letting Him work as He will? I know I do that. But we also have Jesus’s model when He prayed in Gethsemane. There He gave a specific something He wanted His Father to do: “Let this cup pass from Me.” But He didn’t stop there. Instead He submitted to His Father’s will.

These were not words He indiscriminately tacked on as part of religious formalism. Jesus actually was giving the Father control, even if it meant NOT saying yes to what He’d just asked. Actually, He knew His Father was not going to say yes. I mean, He came to earth for the very purpose of dying for sinners. So why did He bother to ask? Because that’s what He wanted. He didn’t want to suffer. He didn’t want to die. But He wanted to obey His Father more.

I think that’s what is lacking in a lot of our prayers. We don’t actually want what God wants if it means we don’t get what we want.

So why am I thankful for this kind of prayer that is . . . not really procuring what I need? Well, what I actually need is submission to God. So it is precisely what I need. And it is communion with the Living God, which is precisely what I need. And when He assures me that He hears my cry, I am so moved, so humbled, that He would listen to an insignificant, low-on-the-totem-pole believer like me. I’m not even the chief of sinners (Paul already claimed that place). I’m not the chief of anything. I’m just a little flower, here today for only as long as the number of days ordained for me last. I’m not the chief hostess or the chief apologist or chief writer or chief evangelist. Not chief anything. And God still listens to me. Actually He loves to listen to me. He longs to listen to ME! I have no idea why except that He is God.

So I am beyond grateful for prayer. It is an awesome, awe-inspiring privilege to pray.

Photo by Ric Rodrigues from Pexels

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Published in: on November 19, 2018 at 5:18 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. I love this! Yes, prayer is about getting close to God, delighting in Him, and He will give us the desires (not WHAT we desire, but the DESIRES) of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4)
    As the risk of sounding self-promoting, my book “BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?)” is my study of what Scripture says are the roadblocks to effective prayer. (I found 14 of them.) Barrier #1 is “Lack of relationship.” (People give gifts to their own children, not somebody else’s.) If you think you’d be interested, I’d be happy to send you a copy, and you can check it out. Then if you think it’s something you should give to your atheist friends, you can take it from there.
    If you’re interested, message me on Facebook (Ann Hardy Aschauer) and send me your address.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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    • Done! And thank you for the opportunity, Ann. May you have a great Thanksgiving as well.

      Becky

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  2. I saw your post on prayer. Well said. At times we don’t know where god is . One night in the wee hours of the morning, as I wrote about it in my blogg, “Eva’s words of life” your prayers aren’t being answered , you question and ask”where are you Lord”

    And as I waited before him to speak, he began to tell me. I’m here , I’m here, I’m in front of you, I’m in the back of you. I’m on the sides of you , I incircle you. I’m in you . I’ve heard your prayers and I’m answering them, it may not be you way or your time, but I can assure you that I’m working in your behafe. Continue to knock and keep on knockin, don’t lose faith and hope. I love you.

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    • Exactly, Eva, God is working even when we can’t perceive it. He is greater than our limited perspective and does far more than we can even imagine! Thanks so much for your comment.

      Becky

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      • Thank you much Becky, I have to depend on him helping me so many times especially as I’m getting older now, I know he’s with me .Gods richest blessing to you and your family on Thanksgiving. Gods bless you.😇

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  3. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

    Can that be proven Becky? Christians do not have better advantages than anyone else. You have all bases covered with whatever happens to all of us to be God’s way or plan etc. Therefore, you convince yourself you are better off somehow and make excuses as to why he does not always deliver.

    I can understand the psychological benefits that may come from thinking you have a divine carer, but this is standard across all faiths including spiritualists, and psychics etc. I will reiterate the simple fact that your brain guides all aspects of your life, it can emphasises your emotions of happiness and adoration or even create illusions and sounds.

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    • Hi, Stephen. Yes, God’s care can be proven because He gave us His Son to rescue us from the chains of sin and of death and of guilt and of the Law that were our lifetime shackles. There’s no greater demonstration of love than for someone to lay down his life for others in need.

      I see you are continuing with your false assumptions about our spiritual lives. Yes, OUR spiritual lives. Because you have a spiritual life, too, Stephen.

      Your thinking is too narrow, too limiting. You are viewing God as if He is a human with limited understanding. Like He might overlook something. Like He might get it wrong. On top of that, you only see what’s in front of you as opposed to looking beyond to the eternal. You hate that what God does might be good for a person for the long run. It’s like the child pleading for candy for breakfast and concluding when his parent says no, that his daddy is mean or his mommy hates him. No, actually they don’t. They see beyond the child’s now and know what he needs to have a healthy and happy then.

      In other words, I’m not “convincing” myself of something at all. I’m trusting, the way a child has to do when a parent says, too much candy isn’t good for you.

      You, on the other hand, are offering a great example of what Paul refers to as “philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world.” He sets this in opposition to that of Christ, which says to me, Christ’s way is not empty; it is not elementary but advanced. I’ll trust His sure word any day over the false assumptions of a human trying to reason away God.

      Becky

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