Prayer…I’ve struggled with it since I accepted Christ at age 13 – 22 years ago! It’s been a recurring topic in my quiet and study times this week. Even in care group on Tuesday we discussed prayer a bit. Someone asked, “Can God change his mind?” My immediate thought? No Our pastor’s answer? Yes. Huh? In the past when I have prayed, I didn’t exactly think God would change his mind. So, why pray? Honestly, before this week, I prayed because the Bible says to, it’s the way to communicate with God, and it simply makes me feel better about the situation – as if I’ve given the burden over to God and some of my responsibility has been relieved.
I’ll admit: I struggle with prayer. I have no trouble studying God’s word or having a quiet time. I have no trouble fellowshipping. I have no trouble attending church or serving others. But, prayer isn’t as easy. I’ve thought and thought about this struggle since Tuesday, and here are my lame reasons for not prioritizing prayer: not enough time; I fall asleep; seems I am always asking, asking instead of thanking, thanking; sometimes I don’t “feel” like God’s listening. I KNOW he is, but things aren’t changing so I doubt.
After our care group exchange, I prayed: God, help me with this prayer thing. Please, Lord, help to have a new understanding and need within to pray, pray, pray. The next morning as I walked I listened to J.D. Greear, a guest speaker at the Village Church in Texas. There was one idea from this podcast that stuck with me: prayerlessness at its core is a gospel problem; prayerlessness comes from not understanding and/or not believing what the gospel says about you or what the gospel says about God. Now, I am still unpacking that statement and its implications for me. But, if my lack of prayer – that is, my inability to truly believe that prayer changes things and should be farther up the priority list – is a gospel problem, that’s telling.
Greear went on to say that when humility and faith have been formed in my soul by the gospel then prayer will become as instinctive and natural to me as breathing. Prayer flows out of what we crave – God. That forced me to ask, “Do I crave God? “ I think so, but I can’t say I know so. I obviously need work there too.
The kicker for me was Greear’s Biblical examples of bold, persistent prayer changing things. Sorry, I can’t begin to explain or answer all questions about the sovereignty of God and how this all works – those who know Mike Berry can ask him as he gave our care group a very quantum physics answer that far outreaches my intelligence level. Yet, while I can’t explain it, I know prayer changes things. I read through each of these examples:
All of these passages demonstrate the results of persistence in prayer. I know God’s not surprised by my prayer – he doesn’t say, “Woah, didn’t know THAT was coming!” Both Isaiah 46:10 and Philippians 2: 12-13 speak to this.
Obviously, I simply don’t have all this figured out. In fact, I’ve been pondering this potential post since Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. trying to figure it all out. Who wants to share a struggle without supplying the solution? Not me because I like to have all the answers. While I don’t have a solution, I do know one thing: when we start school on Monday, I am starting with the gospel. I want to make sure Hannah and Owen understand the gospel – the awe and wonder of it all. And, I want to explore prayerlessness as a gospel issue in my own life.
I have always believed my prayers matter – to God and to the situation for which I’m praying. But, I feel a renewed purpose in my prayer – a new need for persistence and perseverance in prayer. What about you? How’s your prayer life? Is prayer instinctive in your life – like breathing? Or, do you almost feel a need to schedule it? Do you agree that prayerlessness is a gospel issue? Can prayer “change” God’s mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts on prayer.
I also appreciate each text, email, comment, and phone call I’ve received in support of these 365 days of different; these words mean the world to me. Most of all, thanks for the prayers. I know they’re key:)!
The Summit Church (J.D. Greear’s home church)