The Greater Work in Prayer
Christians pray a lot. We pray before meals in restaurants and at kitchen tables. We pray before a particularly hard day at work or a big exam. We pray for peace and encouragement. We whisper a prayer of gratitude when we fall into bed exhausted at night: “Thank God that this day is over. Thank you for getting me through it.” But, how many times do we really pray for others? Do we really intercede?
Prayer is NOT about You.
I’ve heard the quote “If all your prayers were answered today, would you be the only one changed?” countless times. Most of the time, it rubs me the wrong way and makes me feel a little guilty. I push it down and move forward. Today, though, I ache over it. Often, I am stuck in a prayer that sounds more like a grocery list than an intimate talk with God.
Please give me peace.
Please help me feel better about myself.
Help me get all my work done.
Help me impact people.
Give me . . .
Help me . . .
While the grocery list isn’t all bad, it’s treating God like a vending machine, which He’s not. Succinctly, you are not the center of the world and He is not the cashier at the heavenly Wal-Mart.
Prayer is a Game Changer.
“When a believing person prays, great things happen”— this is the Message version of James 5:16. It reminds us that prayer is so much more than a string of things we want (and occasionally need). It’s so much more than attempting to make our lives simpler, easier with a bit of heavenly help. Prayer is about changing lives.
Prayer is our connection to the God of the Universe. It’s sad though that we’re using this connection to further our own lives, to beg for more conveniences, instead of reaching out and praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ. As the old adage goes, “Prayer moves the hand that moves the universe.”
What is your goal when you reach through the door of your own prayer time to move God’s hand? Is it a vague series of “God bless so-and-so,” or a series of “give me . . .” and “help me . . .”? How much of your time is thanking God? Praising Him?
Maybe We’re Looking At It All Wrong
Oswald Chambers, says that “prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Maybe it’s not what we pray for, but that we pray. Maybe what moves the universe, what calls out the force of heaven, is just you – one person – in the simple act of prayer. Maybe that turning of your heart toward heaven is the key to something greater.
When we pray to God about our heart for the students and people we’re ministering to, our ministry is innumerably blessed. And so are we. Let’s remember the weight that comes with the words we say— the blessing that we are able to speak the innermost workings of our heart to God and that we are able to pray on behalf of those we love.
Let’s be done with grocery lists and pray for each other again.
Callie Hyde is an honors student at Baylor University. She writes for a blog called Sincerely, Callie (www.sincerelycallie.com) and is part of Baylor Spiritual Life’s Freshman Retreat, a small group leader at Highland Baptist Church, a Green’s Scholar, and co-creator of Open Book, a group for Baylor freshmen that encourages fellowship and faith with other Christians seeking mentorship and friendship.