I have people in the midwest that I am praying for right now, a family in China as well.
I have people in Florida that I pray for daily and weekly.
I have people, new friends here in Sulphur, that I pray for regularly.
Some of the prayers are general in detail, others specific to situations.
To be honest, I am not really sure exactly how prayer works and recently had a light bulb moment that my own belief in the sovereignty of God, was at times, a stumbling block to my prayers.
I’m not questioning His sovereign rule over all things; that all things come by His hand. Rather, I don’t understand necessarily how my prayers fit within that and rather than ask as a child fully expecting a father to answer I was qualifying my prayers with too much, “If it’s your will…” not really believing an answer would come. Sort of like it was becoming a get out of jail free card I was giving to God so I didn’t have to be sad or angry or disappointed if he didn’t answer the way I wanted or seemingly at all.
He is not bound by my will or the desired outcomes I am asking for; I am bound by His will and the work He is doing in the lives and situations of those I pray for and about. I don’t have to remind Him of what I might want and qualify it with “Really Lord, only if it’s what You truly want.” His perfect will is always being done. There is comfort in that.
Something else about prayer that I just realized the other morning is the way prayer connects us, the prayerer and the prayee. Obviously the idea of entering into each others suffering and bearing with one another as a part of praying is real and true. (This is one of the reasons I think ministers can be worn down and fatigued to the point of burnout. When they truly walk alongside their congregants, praying for them in all the various and sundry situations we humans go through, they are taking on the burden of that person. So they may not be battling cancer or emotional trauma or what have you but they are taking on a weight that is multiplied by the number of people they minister to. The tip here is that as you pray for your pastor you help ease the burden he takes on as he prays for you and others.)
We don’t live in a vacuum. Our actions, sinful and otherwise, have an affect on the other people around us. Prayer doesn’t happen in a vacuum either and the effect works, in my opinion, in a sort of reverse way in that when I pray on someone’s behalf it can also cause me to be changed or challenged either directly or indirectly in some manner.
Here is an example of a direct connection. If I am praying that my daughter Claire would love correction, something we should all love, then I need to also pray for myself and how I am correcting her. Am I correcting her out of frustration or annoyance? Am I correcting her with a view toward godliness or just wanting her to do things the way I think they ought to be done? Is being “right” more important to me than her personhood? Am I nitpicking?
My prayer for her to love correction should cause me to examine my own reasons for wanting her to love correction as well as my own willingness to be corrected.
Indirectly, I may be challenged to love my husband better as I pray for a friend who wishes to be more joyful in her submission to her husband. I may become convicted of areas where I ought to practice more acts of mercy by providing a meal or dropping a get well soon card in the mail for someone who is sick. If I see someone who seems to be struggling with pride or some other sinful behavior as I pray for them it can be a good way for me to check myself for those same besetting sins in my own heart. We tend to see them more quickly and certainly more clearly in those around us. At least I do.
Prayer changes us in ways I cannot even comprehend much less really understand but I am becoming more and more enchanted and grateful for what a gift this tool is in the christian life. I believe genuine prayer is going to grow compassion and repentance, contentment and joy within our spirits; our connection to our Father and to each other is only deepened and strengthened by this odd, hard to understand practice.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will
he hears us. I John 5:14
May we be confident is our asking, expecting our Father who loves us to answer.
What are you praying for?