As I sit here there is a typhoon blustering outside. I feel like there is one inside myself too. Feelings swirling around, kicking up the leaves, knocking out my power. It’s not my job to let these things burden me to the point where I am turning my problems in to a thing I stroke and caress, love and feed as if it were dependent on me and I on it. It is my job to pray.
There are so many things that cause outrage and fear, anxiety, and stress. We have never been more connected, felt more helpless. What can we do? If I had a superpower it would be to fix everything. I adore dismantling the crippling influence of a problem and empowering people through their weaknesses. When something is wrong I want to make it better, I want action! But it’s really not my job to fix everything, just what God puts before me to do. He gave me the desire to want to fix things so I would give it back to Him, building trust. In so doing, I have been given the opportunity to see how prayer is not a matter of passivity, but action. Especially in times when we feel helpless. Though it is not the only action, it is the most available. Sometimes we just cannot do more. It is the most useful. If we give Him our attention, God can direct us. It is the most powerful. We are asking Him to intervene and enable in ways we could not procure on our own. Prayer is a matter of directing obsessive thought patterns that seek to destroy our peace of mind, disturb us with anxiety, toward our loving Creator who calms the storms inside us. It is where we stop and God starts. We are warriors when we take action and pray because — actions have power.
“Prayer is not so much another weapon on our list of weaponry as it is the actual battle.”
Recently, I was given a book of prayers. Skeptical as I was that I would need any assistance there I opened it up one day, flipped through just to see what it was about. Surely prepared prayers can’t know what I’m going through right now. They would feel impersonal and feeble, too general to address my needs today. Boy was I wrong! There were things there I had never even considered truly praying for. Some I never had the words for. Things I struggle with all the time — worry, trouble, burdens, imaginations, thoughts, feelings, discouragement, sleep, boldness, and so much more.I’ve dogeared pages and it has been a refuge in time of great discomfort because some days I just don’t feel creative enough to pray, or honest enough. I can’t spend the energy to think of the words, I don’t have the time to reflect. But it’s a simple thing to read a prayer. The efficiency of it doesn’t take away from the depth of connection, as I’d feared. It’s just another tool to talk to God, hear what’s going on inside of me, be thankful, pray for others, or pray on their behalf because — words have power.
I do not like the idea that God can only hear us if our heads our bowed and our eyes closed. He is in the world, He created it. He’s real and I want to celebrate that so most of the time I pray with my eyes open. In the service of a church I recently attended, there was time for corporate confession and forgiveness and as it was introduced they said, “You will see some people go to their knees in a sign of humility and you may do so if you choose.” As I looked around, praying, I saw God’s people. Some on their knees, some with lifted hands, some standing, others holding children. We were all a part of the Body of Christ and it was wonderful. I pray all the time. Everywhere. There have been times of late I have knelt, I have opened my hands, sat on the floor, gone to quiet places, or simply clasped my hands in a public place. Most often, I am praying in spaces and at times where I do not wish to be noticed but there are times when I have been noticed and I have noticed others humbled in prayer too. It has made my heart leap to see a piece of heaven on earth and I hope others have been so encouraged by me because — posture has power.
Prayer is a strengthening bond not just in intellectual practice, it fulfills our emotional needs in deeply personal ways. Through prayer God invites us to participate, grants us power over evil, guides our thoughts and feelings, communicates His will. Prayer inspires us, gives us the strength to comfort others. Answered prayers are an encouraging witness but so is the faithfulness of the asker of unanswered prayers. For all these things we are called to pray, not a dogmatic commandment, but as an invitation. We do not have a God who asks for works, in fact He tells us the opposite, works will not save us. But He does ask for obedience. Parents have wisdom children cannot and so they often ask for obedience without understanding, they ask for trust. The Bible is full of people who were asked to do things without knowing why or told what the outcome would be (Isaiah, Noah, Mary) but not a single one of them was made less for obediently following His will, they were made so much more and now their stories inspire us. So pray, follow God’s will for your life, let your story be an inspiration because — obedience has power.