On the job the other day, I was with a co-worker and we were conquering what seemed to be a pretty insurmountable task. Crawling around under cabinets; pulling cables through ceiling tiles; inhaling dust from the newly hung sheet-rock and getting fresh paint all over us.
After about three hours of this, with more to come, I decided to take a break. I opened the door leading outside and my co-worker immediately asked “Where are you going?” I responded with “Just taking a little breather to ask God to give me the strength to continue.”
Knowing who I was and what I believed in he said “Sure, that’s easy for you to do ‘cause He listens to you.” His doubt or lack of understanding was very clear to me so I left it as it was… saying nothing in response.
We gradually got through the day and finished-up our task shortly before quitting time. We both looked at our watches and he said “Almost Miller time…thank God!” to which I responded “I agree…Lets!” and I put my hand on his shoulder as we walked to our trucks and did just that… said a little prayer just thanking God for getting us through this day. He simply smiled at me and said “You’re a pip Woody, but thanks.”
As I was driving home, I was thinking about the whole episode and it got me thinking, once again, about the importance of prayer and just how much people don’t understand it or how easy it is to do.
I looked through my Bible for these couple of verses about prayer and exactly how powerful it can be…
James 5:16-18 – “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
Prayer is sometimes hard work. It’s not something that comes naturally and the most important part of it is, you need to believe! You need to open your hearts, un-blind your eyes and un-deafen your ears so you might feel, see and hear the gifts that God will send to you.
…as Jesus told us
Matthew 17:20 – “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE!
I myself, have been a witness to the miracle of prayer so many times I’ve forgotten a few.
- I’ve seen an 85-year-old man survive major heart surgery after all the doctors told his family there was a “very high” risk factor that he wouldn’t live through it… Was he just a tough old man or did God guide the hands of the surgeons?
- I’ve witnessed a woman walk out of a hospital after her last kemo treatment cancer free… Did God remove her disease or did He give her the strength to endure the treatment?
- I know an older gentleman that had suffered alcoholism for most of his life. He told me he had a dream where an angel said to him “Do as I say or I will no longer wrestle with your addictions!” He has been sober now for over 10 years… A message from Heaven or just an old drunk getting a conscious?
- I knew a woman who had lost her 2-year-old daughter to the state as a result of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and imprisonment. After finding Jesus, she reformed her life. 25 years later, her daughter found her… did God lead her daughter to her?
- My Mother, when I was conceived, was told that if she gave birth to me, she would surely die and I most likely would too. Here I am and my Mom lived to be 88… A lucky outcome or a gift from God?
- In my own personal case I have overcome radical PTSD symptoms resulting from an extreme tragedy after dumping my medications and relying on prayer to get me through… Did God answer my prayer or did I simply get used to the ordeal?
What were the similarities between all these people? They all believed in the power of prayer and the gifts from God.
I know how difficult it can be to pray. What do I say? When do I do it? How long should I pray for? To be honest, there are no absolute answers to any of these questions. Prayer is simply a conversation with God… between you and him. He knows your heart and He already knows what you’re going to ask him, as He already knows what you need. As long as your prayers are said with honesty, humility and openness… I can assure you, He is listening.
Remember though, when you’re awaiting an answer… God always give us what we NEED not necessarily what we WANT… learn to recognize the differences and accept His gifts!
Some Things to Think About
As anyone will tell you, I am a HUGE believer in the power of prayer. I thought I’d’ take a quick moment and give you a few tips on how I approach my conversations with God.
- Make it Our Choice
Forming any habit requires action. Unless I choose to rebuild my strength through physical exercise, it won’t happen. Unless I choose to show up on time by leaving early, it won’t happen. Similarly, we won’t pray unless we choose to pray, despite the obstacles (and there are always obstacles!).
So, choose to pray. Choose a location. Choose a time of day that works best. Choose a context that will become familiar over time. At the shoreline and in my truck are my chosen, consistent spots and the places where I am comfortable to pray.
Ask for God’s Help
Because prayer doesn’t come naturally, our hearts are wayward and perhaps a little unruly and our circumstances change, we desperately need God to help us pray—and this means we need Him to transform our hearts, the seat of our deepest desires.
If prayer is merely something we add to our “spiritual checklist,” a joyless obligation, then we’ll pray for all the wrong reasons and never be transformed. But if God were to change our hearts, then we’d yearn for prayer because we first and foremost desire Him! So, we ask God for help!
Read the Bible
God has graciously spoken to us through His precious Word, and we can open our Bibles to hear from Him each day. What an incredible thing, to hear from the God of the universe through words and phrases and sentences and chapters and books! What a wonder that the almighty, holy God would speak to undeserving, sinful humans like us.
If prayer is responding to God’s words (He speaks; we listen, consider, and respond), then before prayer can become a habit, we need Scripture reading to become a habit. As in the last point, we can ask God for His help where Bible reading is concerned: God, give me the desire to hear from you in your Word!
Establish a Pattern
Prayer can feel overwhelming. “How do I know where to begin?”, we ask. Choosing patterns for prayer has helped me pray more consistently and with greater intentionality.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- The Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13)
- Word-centered prayer (pray through a Scripture passage, verse by verse)
- Small group prayer
- Always stay humble and honest
- Family prayer (my favorite)
You’re Never Too Late
At this point, some of you might be feeling discouraged because you haven’t sought to make a habit of prayer. Friends, because of Christ, you can lift your drooping heads and strengthen your weak knees—it’s never too late to start!
God delights to provide for us the desire, motivation, and ability to commune with him in prayer, and He has secured this high privilege for you to draw near through the sacrifice of His Son.
You’re never too late, nor is God ever too far away. Prayer is a gift and, through his strength, it can become a habit for you!