Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 6:18-19
I have said it more times than I can count, and it is true. “There is nothing greater that I can do than pray.” However, I have also made a statement that is diametrically opposed to that. "I wish there were more I could do other than pray.”
Why the two seemingly incongruent statements? Why do I sometimes find it so challenging to pray when I know that there is nothing impossible with God, Luke 1:37, and the way He has given us to receive His answers is prayer. There are lots of reasons why praying is often so challenging:
When we pray, we face spiritual warfare. The Evil One opposes our prayers.
Prayer takes time, and busyness often takes precedence over a time of prayer.
Weariness is a part of almost everyone's life, and it takes a great deal of energy to pray.
All of these reasons and so many more are possible hindrances to our giving the gift of prayer, but another possibility has also occurred to me. May I tell the story of the two gifts?
The first gift was one we gave at Christmas. It wasn't grand or expensive, and we sent it to its recipient who doesn't live in our town. We hoped they would be blessed by it. We know it was received, but we never heard anything concerning it. Even so, we are glad we sent the present, but it won't be as exciting when we send the next gift to them. We aren't angry, we simply don't know anything about their reaction or enjoyment upon receiving what we sent.The second gift was one we gave last month, and this time, we received sweet pictures of the recipient smiling while she was holding up the gift. It was so fun to share the joy with her. There is simply something so precious about seeing that what we gave made even a small impact in someone's life.
Back to prayer. It is truly a wondrous gift to give, and many mysteries surround it. After all, we have the privilege of speaking to the Creator of everything, Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3. This One Who shed His blood for us desires that we pray and offers amazing promises when we do, John 14:13-14. Incredible! Yet, may I dare to say that often when we pray, what we see in the here and now is similar to the first gift that I described? We send out the gift of prayer, but often we don't know what the Lord has done in answer to our petition. If we forget the promises that remind us of His goodness, Matthew 7:7-11, our desire to pray might wane. Our anticipation, even though we are approaching His throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16, might be lessened, causing us to lose some of the joy that is ours because we have the privilege of praying. We might even wonder if it is worth continuing in prayer at all.
Have you ever seen one of the TV programs like "the Pioneer Woman" or Fixer Upper where the audience sees two lines of action? We watch as the camera shows us two scenes that are going on simultaneously in the lives of different family members. Wouldn't we love it if God did that for us when we prayed? Can you imagine praying for a loved one or even someone we don't even know, followed by God's showing us what He did through those prayers? Oh, the joy of seeing in real time as God strengthened someone or wondrously intertwined her life in answer to our prayers. Talk about instant gratification. Yet, the fact that God doesn't usually do that for us doesn't diminish the power of prayer. Just because we don't now see what God does through prayer doesn't take away the fact that He answers according to His wisdom, power and love. The truth is that we can confidently offer prayer on behalf of others because we are speaking to the One Who never lies, Titus 1:2. By faith, we know that our prayers are making a difference because God has told us to continue to pray and not lose heart, Luke 18:1-8.
Sometimes when we read Hebrews 11, we marvel at the exploits of those who lived by faith. Because they believed God, they did amazing things like building an ark and leaving their homelands. They were responding to God's Word to each of them. When we pray, aren't we doing the same thing as they have done? God has commanded us to pray 1 Timothy 2:1; 6:18-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. By faith, we call out to Him, even when we don't see discernible things occurring as a result of our prayers.
Right now, we all have limitations concerning places we might like to go and people we would love to see. There have been uncountable and unfathomable struggles that people have undergone. There are many circumstances we can't affect. Yet, there is one resource that we can tap, and it will never run dry. By faith, we can pray, asking the Lord to intervene in the situations on our hearts.
Joni, though she is a quadriplegic, prays at night for unseen people around the world. Those hidden in back rooms who have no means of mobility because there are no wheelchairs for them. By faith, she touches them, asking God to intervene in their lives, both spiritually and for their physical needs.
Lord, we miss many of the special people and activities we are used to enjoying. There are lives many would like to touch in a physical and tangible way. We can't do that now.
Help us to cry out by faith, knowing that You do much of Your work in ways we cannot now see. Lord, we believe, but sometimes, we must ask You to help our unbelief, Mark 9:24.