“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
Colossians 4:2 (English Standard Version)
Sometimes, especially when I’m tired and stressed, I hit the “copy” button instead of the “fax” button….which leads to exerting even more brain power as I am forced to re-enter the same information all over again (the recipient’s number).
Sometimes, especially when I’m in a hurry, I say “mocha” instead of “caramel” when ordering my latte…which leads to disappointment because it wasn’t really what I wanted.
Sometimes, especially when I’m tired, stressed, in a hurry, and/or my judgment is clouded by sin (or just plain self-absorption), I rely on my own answers instead of turning to the Lord….which leads to not only disappointment and less energy, but also less fulfillment in not following God’s best for me.
A couple of weeks ago, the young singles group at church went on a ski retreat from Thursday to Saturday. And while I never had any intention of skiing (it’s just not really my thing, but yes, I have skied before . . . once), I absolutely wanted to go on what promised to be a wonderful time of fellowship and spiritual renewal . . . both individually and as a group.
But then the snow happened.
And I got behind at work.
And my Greek final exam was looming.
And I had several other reasons why I
just. didn’t. want. to. go.
I had convinced myself that there were about a million better things to do with my time. But something about making the actual decision to not go left me feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted . . . but I was out of time to make a decision. It was already Tuesday evening.
So I asked my Dad what he thought I should do. And he said he couldn’t make that decision for me.
So I did what all obedient and wise [adult] children do . . . I asked my Mom what she thought I should do. And she said she couldn’t make that decision for me.
(At least they’re consistent…)
SO, I asked my roommate (for the 1000th time) what she thought I should do. And she said something similar to, “Stop thinking about it and just go already.”
Now that was wisdom, wouldn’t you agree?
But of course I couldn’t stop there. So eventually, after all other possibilities had been exhausted, I prayed.
Seems like that would have been a good FIRST option, right?
And while this response is seemingly rare – and I’ll admit I don’t even expect it most of the time – my answer was prompt and obvious.
I checked my email at about 11pm, and my answer was literally staring me in the face in the form of an email that had been sent about 10pm (very shortly after I began praying).
I was going.
And although I didn’t know how I would catch up at work or how I would study enough for the exam, I knew this was the right decision.
We had a great time!!
And interestingly enough, the focus during our group devotions was on community and prayer.
“Pray then like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.’”
Matthew 6:9-13 (English Standard Version)
Throughout those couple of days, I was clearly reminded again and again of how the Lord has been drawing me to Himself through prayer. For reasons that are far too private to share on this blog, several years ago, prayer became a struggle for me.
Not because I believed prayer didn’t work.
Quite the contrary, because I believed it did.
But over the past several years, the Lord has been steadily restoring our relationship through prayer, and for the past year and half or so, it has been one of the largest areas of my spiritual growth.
But here’s truth: I still don’t understand it. At least not fully. But this is what I know:
Prayer is Biblical.
Prayer is an act of obedience.
Prayer does not change God…after all, God is still God and God is still sovereign.
Prayer does change me.
Prayer aligns and conforms my mind and my heart to God’s will.
Prayer focuses me on seeking God.
Prayer forces me to notice where God is already at work.
Prayer is powerful.
God answers prayer. Not always in the way we want or expect, but He answers.
And even in those moments where we get an answer completely contrary to what we were hoping (whether that answer is an obvious “no” or an obvious “go“), we can trust that God is sovereign, and knows our best.
Just think of what I would have missed if this time I had chosen to rely on my own answer rather than the clear answer received through prayer. Not only would I have missed a fun and relaxing ski trip with an awesome group of people (from the comfort of a gorgeous cabin located right on the slopes, no less…), I also would have missed an opportunity to grow, to minister, and to be changed.
***all pictures courtesy of Elizabeth (or her Dad)***
“…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16 (New International Version)