In the last few months I’ve been experimenting with prayer. I hope that doesn’t sound too scary, but I think I have taken prayer for granted often in my life. It’s been incredibly helpful during times on the battlefield (aka mission field) or other challenging times in life, and I’ve learned a lot through that. But I’m thankfully not in a “survival season” right now, and so my new motivation has been to pray for others. They call it “intercessory prayer.” I call it a potential recipe for impatience.
When you pray for yourself, you somehow find ways of measuring God’s answers–feeling more peace, changing circumstances, maybe even a change in your attitude or abilities. But when you’re praying for others, you kind of feel like you’re flying blind most of the time. For example, maybe there’s a moment when you feel a burden to pray for someone, so you do. Then you go on with your life, but you can’t help but wonder, What happened?! Was a car accident avoided? Was there some kind of spiritual attack going on? But you can’t exactly ask the person, “So…last Tuesday…say, around 3 p.m…Was there anything…different…going on?” I suppose you could, but it might be weird.
The point is, if it can sometimes be hard to track God’s answer for yourself, it’s harder to track it when praying for others. And after awhile you go from “I wonder HOW God is answering?” to “I wonder IF God is answering?” If you’re going to invest all this time in praying, you want to see results. That’s the way it works in the real world, right? But this isn’t the real world. This is God’s world–God’s Kingdom–and things work differently here, apparently.
The main difference is that in God’s Kingdom, prayer is actually about…God. Imagine that. We might have great reasons for praying for ourselves or friends or family or even major church or world issues. But if we forget WHO we are praying to…it’s not prayer any more. It’s worry.
Is God forgetful that we must keep reminding Him?
Is God legalistic, watching the “Prayer-O-Meter” to see if we have prayed enough?
Is God uncaring, not willing to move until we push and fight for an answer?
These are thoughts I’ve read, heard, and wrestled with in the last few months. At times I felt like I was making progress…and then I would fall back into discouragement, and mostly just exhaustion, feeling like I just could never be “good enough” at praying. If I was “good enough,” then I would be able to see my prayers answered, rather than hints and whispers and a whole lot of silence. Right?
Last weekend, I turned a new corner in this journey. Believe me, this is just a new corner, I’m not saying I’ve conquered this subject. At. All. But my journey has taken me full circle to remembering that prayer is actually about…GOD. Prayer is more about who I am praying TO than what I am praying FOR. I love Who He is, and I know He is trustworthy to take care of whatever I’m praying for.
If you haven’t taken time in awhile to just sit with Jesus and enjoy Him without an agenda, you should try it. Really, we’ve got nothing to lose except our worries. It’s ok to set our prayer request list down for awhile, and just let Him love us. He already knows, He’s already heard, and He is already working on it. We can thank Him for that, and move on to what He wants most: our open hearts so He can refresh us with His presence, lift our burdens, and remind us that it’s all going to be ok…because He is God, and He loves us.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18 (NLT)
*Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was written by Andrea Keele, and sent on March 10, 2016.