THE TAKE AWAY
The Purpose of Prayer
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Why should we pray? He speaks to us through the Bible. He knows all our wants and needs. If nothing we say can change His mind, what use is it?
CS Lewis said, "[Prayer] doesn't change God; it changes me." We forget that in our laundry-lists of requests capped by a guilty/reluctant "Thy will be done." Prayer doesn't change God's plan. It changes us to better fit into that plan.
My son just got a little airsoft gun. Let's say he comes up to me and asks if he can shoot it. I say no. He huffs off.
But if instead of huffing off he submits and engages, the request leads to a deeper conversation. We talk about gun safety. And the best place to shoot it. And that the dog is not an appropriate target. We talk about the advantages of shooting at his fort vs. the fence where the pellets could go into the neighbors' yard. We talk about how he's responsible for picking up all the pellets, and we search the internet together to find some cool targets to print.
Then I say yes.
I have not changed. My goal has not changed. He just initially had the wrong idea of my goal. My goal wasn't that he never shoots his gun, it was that he is safe and responsible in everything that he does. His good attitude and submission doesn't change me — it leads to a process that changes him so that he is ready for a different answer.
An answer that allows him the freedom to have what he wanted.
Or it gets dark and we watch a movie. Either way, the relationship deepens.
A friend messaged me. We met 22 years ago. We haven't lived in the same state for about 19. She lives 1500 miles away. She let me know that she never really recovered from her son's death. I wasn't there for his death, and I'm not there for her now. So I pray.
Another friend is here in town. After years of working as a SpEd aide, she's taking the leap and doing a program that will make her a fully qualified teacher in two years. She works full-time and goes to school on weekends, and has a husband with a high-stress job and two teenagers at home. I can't help her with her work or her school work (and she's a much better cook than me!). So I pray.
Yet another friend — two boys (one ADHD and hormonal), one husband recovering from surgery, and a mother living in her basement. Oh, and her dog is so anxious she's on medication. There's not a lot I can do there. But I can pray.
It's pretty obvious that God regularly leads us into hard situations that we can't fix. I hate that. But in a way it's good. For one, it reminds us we can't fix everything. That we have to depend on God. For another, it tells us what to pray for. Sometimes it will be what our friend asks for. Sometimes it will be something the Spirit is leading us to ask for — something our friend isn't ready to hear. For a moment, we can be a go-between, an advocate who witnesses their pain, but also sees a little bit further into a deeper truth.
I was doing some coding last week — actually, trying to figure out how to make Blogos mobile friendly. Halfway through, struggling with CSS and HTML, the thought came to me. It's okay to pray about this. It's okay to pray that the Holy Spirit — the Eternal Creator God — gives me insight into formatting internet pages. And not just because it's for a ministry.
I've been raised to believe I need to figure things out on my own without asking for help. But truth is, God likes it when I ask for help. I need to make shelves for JT's wall. I can pray about that. I'm thinking of making garden boxes in the backyard. I can pray and ask if that's a good idea. The dog has been licking her foot a lot lately. Should I take her to the vet or give her another Benadryl?
I don't have a dad I can call about this stuff. But that's okay. God wants to hear about the nitty-gritty daily stuff. And it keeps my thoughts on Him, even when I'm focused on seemingly non-spiritual things. Like unclogging the bathroom sink.
Or writing blog articles.
Too often I treat prayer like a rich truffle — good for special occasions, but not to be indulged in flippantly. As if I need to be sure I tried everything I could on my own before I asked for help. That's pretty messed up. God says He wants to hear from us — all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Even when we're just asking for help (Philippians 4:6). That it's the best way we can help others (Ephesians 6:18).
Jesus sacrificed so we could come to God with confidence (Hebrews 10:19-25). It doesn't matter if we need help with depression, schedules, desires, or HTML. God wants to hear from us.
Image Credit: Florian Dre; "The Days Run Away"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Personal-Life
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