Prayer is so incredibly powerful. They really work. There is authority there. The entire chapter of James 4 is quite good, but I just want to focus on two phrases that have really made an impact on me when it comes to prayer, “ye have not, because ye ask not,” and “draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”
I’m a fixer and a doer, so if there’s a problem somebody needs to fix it. Never in a million years would I accept the idea that something is broken so……let’s just rest in His peace and pray about it. Pshaw! “God helps those who help themselves.” That is actually a common saying, but it is not really in the bible. It probably originated in Algernon Sidney’s 1698, Discourses Concerning Government.
For a long time I didn’t really believe in prayer as a verb with the power to affect change.
So many people just casually toss around the word “prayer” these days, too. “I’ll pray for you” has kind of come to mean, “wow, that sounds stressful.” It’s common on facebook to see the single word “prayers” typed out as if it were a “like” or something, an expression of sympathy. A platitude, although a well intended one. Those are not really “prayers.”
I did not understand the power of prayer until I wound up with so many broken things all around me that prayer was all I had. I couldn’t fix them, I couldn’t change them, and I couldn’t accept them. When that happens, you’re in a real pickle. You have to be able to do one of those three things or you are truly stuck in a trap and sure to chew off your own foot. I kid you not, it was really awful and that was my first real action prayer, Lord, I’m stuck in a trap and I’m about to chew of my left foot. This is what I need from you.
He said, “yes.” That simple, but it rocked my whole world. Just a very clear, Still Quiet Voice, “yes,” that was so convicting, so certain, that meant, consider it done. “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” I had honestly never thought to ask with any kind of assurance that it would do any good. Trust issues, mine not God’s.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you,” is so important because it wasn’t easy once God said “yes,” it required a huge leap of faith and also sitting on my hands and trusting in Him. Like I said, I’m a fixer and a doer, so accepting that I was supposed to just lean into that promise without taking action on my own, was really tough. Jesus says over and over again, “your faith has healed you.” He marvels at the faith of the centurion soldier. It is our faith that drives our prayers. We have to infuse them with our faith.
Faith alone is doing something. “Be Still and know that I am.”
I struggle with that. I can be such a cynic, such a skeptic, oh ye of little faith. My prayers have been answered, I have seen prayer work, and yet still I can doubt. I really have to work at infusing my prayers with faith and trusting that the Lord will handle it.
Prayer is an act. It is a verb. It is taking action. God doesn’t always fix things precisely the way we had in mind, or how we imagined it, but often placing things in His hands, resting in His peace, and trusting Him to handle it, really is the most effective way to create genuine change.
All in good humor here, but when I was a teen ager I worked as a tree planter. We were heading towards Mount St. Helens to camp out and plant nearby, and in typical kid form I was praying, with zero faith at all, oh Lord, please don’t make me go to work today, just turn this car around. And then we suddenly heard on the radio that the top of the mountain had come right off and we had to turn around. We actually got some ash on the windshield and bumper driving home. Don’t blame me for Mount St Helen’s, I didn’t do it, but I never thanked God for answering my prayers that day, in fact, in all the excitement I totally forgot I had been praying at all.
Praying with so little faith, that when it suddenly came to be I didn’t even have enough faith to see it.
I highly doubt God blows up mountains just for me, but there have been so many times in my life when the answer to my own silly little prayers have been woven into much bigger life events and I have failed to see them, failed to take note of it. Not only did He keep me safe that day, He got us an extra week off of work.
Thank you notes to God I have forgotten to write, there are dozens of them, so many that have gone unwritten simply because I was so afraid to believe in His answered prayers.
“…..if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” -Matthew 17:20