Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Prayers that Work

I've been noticing something lately about prayer. When we pray for little things that will teach big lessons, God seems to be very interested in answering with a yes. I'll give you an example. Person X has a pet missing for 3 days as of Saturday night. Person X knows I'm a pastor and asks me to pray that this pet will return. I, of course, agree to do so and ask 2 different churches to pray the next morning. Pet comes home by noon on Sunday.

Now, I've prayed for such things many times and had the hoped-for results not come about. But this time, instead of just praying for the pet to come home, I prayed that God's seemingly little action would teach a big lesson. My prayer was as follows: "God, you care about everything that we care about. Person X cares very much about this pet. If it be your will, bring this pet home. Let this person learn that you care about her concerns and, more importantly, that you're in the business of bringing the lost home. Amen."

So a new tactic in my prayer life is to try to identify how answered prayers would fit with what God wants people to know about Him. Instead of just praying for this or that, I'm praying for 'this' b/c it will prove 'that' in recognition of the fact that all things allowed into our lives can serve as part of God's plan to relate to His children.

3 comments:

The AJ Thomas said...

We have been doing something similar with prayer here at Deep Water. We have been praying for God to do some stuff A) to build our faith that He is able and B) to bring glory to Himself and not just in the "and we'll give you all the glory and praise..." sense but as an actual manifestation of his presence and power that will grab peoples attention and draw them to him.

I think ultimately this is about praying in line with God's will. Is it God's will for the cat to come home? Does God have a specific will for the location of cats? Not sure but I doubt it. However, like you said, he does care about us and he does long to reveal Himself to us.

It mat seem a bit weird to approach prayer by telling God what's in it for him (although there are a few prayer in scripture that seem to take this approach) but I think the reason this approach is important is because it causes us to be aware of how the answer to these prayers are a part of his purposes so that they can have the desired effect. If you aren't looking at it from a "does God care enough about the details of my life to send my kitty home" perspective then when the cat shows up it will just be seen as dumb luck but when we have chosen to see God at work in this situation through prayer then all the sudden it becomes a chance for Him to speak to us and I think He likes to take those opportunities.

Sorry this is so long - point is, I agree with you, good post.

Miss W said...

I've always been confused about prayer. Why do we pray when God is going to do what he wants to anyway? Do we change his plans, or do we align ourselves with his plans? Don't take this wrong, I believe in prayer, but I often wonder if I'm doing it the right way.

But it is extremely awesome when God delivers an answer so clearly that I can't deny it was straight from him.

~Regan

TMNK said...

"Do we change his plans, or do we align ourselves with his plans?"

I think both.

As to the former, it's not so much that we 'change His plans' as it is that His plan all along was for our prayer to be a part of the process of His action. When we fail to pray, His will is sometimes thwarted mid-process.

As to the latter, I love this aspect of prayer. The more we learn to think like God, the more we become answers to our own prayers for others and the more we ask for the things God is pleased to have us ask for.