I am fascinated by and enamored with the act of prayer—the idea that a person, small and so not-God, could talk (utter her tiny words) to the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the Divine Everything and that she would find those words heard, escorted to the throne of the Father by the Spirit, enabled by the blood of Christ.
Then I open my Bible and see that God’s not just “listening” like a parent “listens” to his toddler blowing words like so many bubbles, or like a boyfriend “listens” to a garrulous girlfriend at the end of a long day. That would be something, comforting.
But it’s not what happens in prayer.
In prayer, Creator God, Father, listens to His children, taking stock of their needs and aches, waiting eagerly to fill their open hands with what they most need.
Sometimes, every once in while, what we ask of God can change the direction of human history.
Now excuse me while I pick up the pieces of my brain.
I know. I know. Prayer is complicated. I prefer the word mysterious. Some people might say confusing or frustrating or, yeah, ridiculous.
I searched prayer memes today because memes are, as we all know, the epicenter of human knowledge. I felt like these best represented our culture’s understanding of prayer:
According to many…
Prayer is futile, a way to avoid the real work of world-changing.
Prayer is selfish, a hotline to the blessing warehouse where we put in our order.
Prayer is an achievement, doing it a measure of our personal awesomeness, like points in a basketball game (ME: 25) or notches in a belt.
But prayer is not that. Not any of it.
Prayer, the kind of prayer David prayed, the kind of prayer Jesus prayed, the kind of prayer the early church prayed…
That prayer is powerful, moving mountains.
That prayer is unequivocally unselfish, seeking God’s will and glory above all.
That prayer is the ultimate acknowledgement of man’s inability to live without God’s care and provision.
Prayer is so much more and so much better than we think it is.
For the next few posts we’ll be talking about prayer. We’re going to talk about “prayer requests” and praise and relationship and thanksgiving and discipline and vision—how and what.
I don’t plan to make a case for prayer. Better people with bigger brains have done that. I just want to help you do it. Because I think if you do it well you’ll become convinced of its worth.
In the past I often wondered if prayer mattered. I wondered if it changed anything. I wondered why God needed me to pray if He could read my mind. But then I started praying, for real praying, and I stopped having so many questions.
James says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” And I know what you’re going to say, “Yeah, but…”
Do me a favor before you look for the loophole. Try it.