Not too long ago, after one of weekend worship services, it seemed like there were a lot of intense prayer needs…people dealing with significant, personal, heavy issues. I listened to one dealing with a custody hearing, sat with one going through a legal suit case against them, prayed with one dealing with depression, and physical health concerns, and these were introduced to me within 10 minutes! I confess that hearing these, I was overwhelmed and my faith fluttered when I wondered what I could do. So then I prayed, and even then, it was hard to feel that it wasn’t more than just words.
Later, I heard from those facing the court cases, that the worse didn’t happen. God came through. In one situation, as they were approaching the judge, something happened that turned what could have been devastating into something that has preserved life and hope…and honestly, I am hoping and praying for more than that!
The title of this post is not about the prayer that strengthened those I prayed for but strengthened the one who prayed for them: ME! Ashamedly, sometimes I find myself saying to others, “Hey, the least I can do is pray for you!” What a crock!
If the US Air Force accepted my invitation to execute a military “shock-and-awe” maneuver in my backyard to destroy a nasty nest of Army ants (you gotta love the imagery) they would bring firepower that was more magnificent and vastly superior to any insectarian defense or assault the vicious beasts could mount and to any insecticide ammunition I have under my kitchen sink!
Asking the USAF for help would not be the least I could, that would the most extravagant, maybe even audacious thing I could do! Consider that when we pray, we are inviting the divine and infinite source of power in and beyond this universe to move and accomplish His perfect will in our life or the lives of others. That is so far above “the least we can do”! Praying for people is less about what we want to do to help, but the privilege we have of inviting God to bring His strength and power to the table.
Now I know that there are times where God doesn’t come through the way we wish He would… all the time! We might be ashamed to admit, that our faith in God is sometimes dictated by His performing the way we want Him to, when we want Him to. Thus when He doesn’t comply with our requests, we tend to lose faith in Him and pray less. Tragically, that is where weakness sets in.
In hearing the praise reports of these friends who needed God to move and then experienced His movement, it revived my faith in Him, gave me hope in spite of those times that other prayers weren’t answered my way, and somehow, reignited the conviction that though I am not sure what He is up to, He has no doubt about what He’s doing and why. God is good (all the time) and is working all things out (always) for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
The “least I can do” is fake it but still mouth the request. The best I can do is ‘faith it’ and sincerely trust in Him to do what only He can! Sincere prayer is where faith in God is strengthened, not solely by His fulfilling my request as we asked, but more, by the wonderful reality and promise of His Presence, His Purpose, and His Power that will ultimately brings His version of good into our lives. Given the choice, I definitely want His version of good!
Lord, forgive us for weak prayer that is really more about weak trust in You. Help us to lift up our requests to you with a clearer focus on Your Imposing Nature and Divine resources than on our imposing circumstances and desperate conditions. We agree with Jesus: our spirit may be willing but our flesh is so weak! So, may we submit ourselves to You for renewal.