I can still remember the little plaque in my Grandmother’s house that read, “Prayer Changes Things”. And I believe with every fiber within me that prayer does make a difference. But when my mind is overwhelmed and I struggle to even put together words…my prayers seem weak and ineffective. When this happens, the Scripture here in Psalms shines bright in my mind. God will never spurn my prayers, however clumsy they may seem…and He will never stop loving me because of my awkwardness of words. For if you think about it, the real power of prayer is found in the Listener of our prayers, not in the one uttering the words.
I’m writing today’s Devotional for me and no one else, but you get to read it! The new year looms ahead with endless possibilities…all good things I could be doing. And as with most of you, I have more than enough opportunities to do good works for the Lord… to the point I’d spread myself so thin I would be ineffective in them all. The verses here in Philippians tell me that I need to let God know what it is I want. For me it’s clarification, direction, and purpose of all the things I could be doing…for I don’t want to be running down a road that’s not of God, simply for the sake of running. I Timothy 2:1-2 tells me the purpose for prayer is that I may lead a peaceful and quiet life…and for me, that comes from calmly resting in the very center of God’s Will.
You may know them as Prayer Chains, or a Prayer Wall where requests and concerns are brought so that many can lift them to God…or maybe you’re part of a Prayer Warrior Group that regularly unite in focused prayer on behalf of others. Here Paul is thanking Believers for their continued prayers, telling them that he knows their prayers have rescued him from many dangers. He looks at these answered prayers of God’s grace in his life with hope and gratefulness…knowing those praying for him are praising God also. For the beauty of answered prayers is that they touch everyone….those who pray and those who were prayed for.
A few verses down in Chapter 30 Job complains again to the Lord when he says, “You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; You toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30:22) Have you ever felt that way? Disheartened, fearful, or left feeling that your prayers are being shut out by a God who just stares at you in response to them? This is not coming from the Lord. For Psalm 34:17 tells us, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” Or Proverbs 2:3 goes on to say, “He is near us when we pray.” We can’t rely on raw feelings during stressful times, nor can we succumb to Satan’s taunts of, ” If God really loved you, He’d be helping you right now.” No, like Job, we must acknowledge God’s sovereignty, His control and perfect timing in all things. For no matter how abandoned or far away from God we may “feel”…God hasn’t gone anywhere…nor will He.