A few years ago, a friend of mine received a tragic cancer diagnosis. As this mother of three labored through her arduous chemo schedule, I talked with her burdened and exhausted husband, who was a colleague of mine at the time. He lamented that loved ones didn’t know what to say to him about their current life circumstance. Of course, he totally understood, but I could tell the whole situation was taking a toll on him. He was working full time, had three kids in school, was taking care of his wife who was unable to pitch in as normal, on top of interacting with so many friends and family who, like all of us, just wanted his wife to be healed.
“Sometimes,” he said, “people tell me that they’re thinking about my wife and our family.” He followed, “Knowing that someone is thinking about us doesn’t really help too much. We desperately need prayer.”
Thinking vs. Praying
I think we all agree there is a huge difference between thinking about something in our minds and bringing someone’s name before the King who sits on the throne. My friend wanted people to offer up prayer to the One who has the power to save. He knew the significance and power of that conversation.
I know what we often mean when we say that we’re thinking about someone or a situation. But prayer is so much bigger and demonstratively more powerful than our human thoughts! I mean prayer isn’t a conversation that simply happens in my head. It’s not a positive thinking, self-help session in my brain. Most Christians wouldn’t use the word thinking in place of praying. But, does our prayer life indicate that we really know the difference between thinking deeply about something and approaching the Lord in prayer?
It’s that time of year again. Yellow buses practice their circuitous routes, stores brim with school supplies, and teachers adorn their rooms with inviting bulletin boards and welcoming smiles. Back to school is officially upon us.
I ended the summer reading through the Psalms and Proverbs. As I drank in the wisdom of these two books, certain passages in particular have encouraged and directed my hopes for my children as they head back to school. These verses have shaped my prayers and given words to the longings of my heart. As my children spend less time in my presence, I am thankful that I can bring all my concerns and cares before the Lord in prayer.
Lord, I pray that my children would understand their need for Jesus and rejoice in the good news of the Gospel. Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death (Psalms 68:19-20).
Lord, I pray that my children will love learning; that their hearts would seek to understand the world you have created. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly (Proverbs 15:14).
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the 18th century, is commonly honored as the “Prince of Preachers”. But, Mr. Spurgeon was among the first to give credit where credit is due: he considered the faithful, praying members of his church to be “the powerhouse of this church.” The “engine room” of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, as he called it, was the basement where people gathered on their knees asking the Lord for His blessing. According to Spurgeon, the prayer meeting was the spiritual thermometer of the church as “souls stormed the celestial city with the might of their intercession.”
Priority of Corporate Prayer
If we were able to take a measurement, what do you think would be the average spiritual temperature of churches today—a healthy body temperature of 98.6 or a feverishly high reading exceeding 100 degrees? If prayer meetings are the accurate spiritual gauge, Spurgeon might say that many churches (certainly not all!) are languishing on life support in ICU.
It’s time for the church, and for Christians everywhere, to take stock of its priority for prayer and honestly ask ourselves some hard questions. Could it be we live powerless lives, and attend powerless churches, because we’ve given up the vibrant prayer gathering in favor of a church-wide supper, committee meeting, or an extra Bible lecture? There’s nothing wrong with those good activities, but the trade is a rip-off. What could be gained if we once again stoked the fires of the prayer engine room in churches and homes across America? In one word: change.The change that’s so desperately needed in our world simply will not happen by casting a vote, rearranging our financial portfolios, or shouting on social media. Only God’s divine power can bring deep-rooted change. Change happens as God performs His work through the powerhouse of corporate prayer…
It was the answer to prayer I didn’t want to get. It was not only disappointing—it was costly.
It was one of those life situations that getting the answer I wanted would have had no grand effect on the universe, but have made my life (and my family’s life) quite lovely. Time, prayer, wise counsel, and careful planning had all gone into setting the stage. The answer I wanted would have allowed me to honor God in so many ways. The correct answer to my prayer was obvious, and I couldn’t wait to receive my blessing from the Lord’s hand.
But the answer that seemed so right never materialized. I felt as though God had failed me even though I had done everything right. I prepared for a season of action, yet God had me continue in this season of waiting. In between the sharp pains of disappointment, questions swirled like brittle leaves on a blustery day. Why had it turned out this way? Why did I have to suffer? Didn’t God care?
SUE HARRIS|GUEST Recently one morning, when I was finished praying, I heard the Lord speak. Well…he didn’t actually speak in an audible voice, but I clearly “heard” him as I considered who he really was. When I opened my eyes, it was as if he said, “That’s it? That’s all you’re asking? I’m the King… Read More
VANESSA HAWKINS|GUEST I had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land this past January. It had been a lifelong dream, but as I have discovered in times past, the realization of a dream is often not the way we envision it. A Dream of Israel When I first began planning for the pilgrimage to Israel… Read More