Monday, December 12, 2011

The Profoundness of Prayer

Isaiah 64:4 NIV - Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

I know that close friends are already chuckling as they read the title to this post. In the past two years they have undoubtedly heard me talk plenty on this subject as I have grown in my understanding and therefore, passion thereof.  My perspective on prayer has shifted in recent years as my utter ignorance of its depth has been revealed in me. I feel as though a whole new realm has been opened up to me and in writing this I hope that I may share some of my journey with you.  I believe that God has been preparing me for such a time as this and He has done so in the quite, secret place of prayer.  About a year and a half ago I picked up an autobiography of a very well known speaker throughout the world.  In it, he said that there was one book that had impacted his life above all others; I had to get the book.  I drove that day to the only book store in town that had it in stock, and I paid full price for the book.  If you know me, I never pay full price for anything but this book has been worth every penny.  I have read it through perhaps ten times now and every time I glean something new from its fields of wisdom on prayer.  Prayer is profound.

Randi and I continue to be overwhelmed at the generous response of family and friends throughout this whole ordeal.  So many of you have offered up meals, time, letters, babysitting, gifts, encouragement, thoughts, and even money.  Some of you have even put in calls to doctors and friends to get us into places we might not have been able to see and enabled us to talk to those who have walked this path before us.  Your care has been astounding; I don't think we've ever known that we are so loved. For this, we are ever grateful and words do not suffice to express our thankfulness.  Thank you.

Of everything done on our behalf however, the most humbling of all is that you would offer this: prayer.  For you to talk to a friend on our behalf who has gone through this before is of great benefit; to talk to the One who has walked in human flesh and can identify with every bit of our experience is powerful: Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." I have heard it reported that Barack Obama's uncle who happens to be an illegal resident, was arrested on intoxication charges.  He was shortly released because his friends appealed to the highest authority in the land: the President of the United States, a.k.a. his uncle.  In like manner, as I have said before, some of you have appealed to doctors in order to get us into places where we might not of otherwise been afforded the opportunity. Ah, but when you pray, you appeal to the highest authority in the heavens, a.k.a. The Father.  For there is no one greater to appeal to.

I have heard it asked what the highest position one might hold in ministry might be.  Many answers have been offered but perhaps the following is the best given. If you are a teacher, you may move a class; if you are an Evangelist, you may move a crowd; if you are a Priest, you may move a parish; if you are a Preacher, you may move a congregation; if you are a Pope you may move a religion; if you are a President, you may move a government; and if you are a Prophet, you may move a nation; but when you PRAY, you may move God.  I believe that there is no higher form of ministry in this life than that of prayer.

Prayer is profoundly simple, and simply profound.  It is easy enough that a small child can do it, and yet so deep that an old man may not fully understand its capacity. Prayer links our impotence to His Omnipotence. It takes our inabilities and leans on His reliability.  Prayer releases the illusion of control to the reality of the illustrious One who controls all things.  Prayer takes work, but I am convinced that prayer works.

That is why we believe that the most humbling thing that can be said to Randi and I is that someone is praying for us.  WOW.  The idea that you would take our little concern in front of the greatest authority in the universe is very, very humbling.  I know of no greater honor.

If you are anything like me, however, this statement of 'praying for you' may at times just be a simple phrase that is code for 'good luck with that' and you go on your merry way.  It may just be a simple colloquialism that is said because in the situation that we find ourselves in that is just what people say.  Or, it may be said in all earnestness and then shortly thereafter forgotten.  Perhaps, you find yourself on the journey where I was a few years ago and you wouldn't even know where to start in prayer.   

At its most elementary form, prayer is simply a conversation with God. It is not a repetitious recital of words, it is talking to a friend.   There are no magic words, God looks at the heart.  It is not confined to a church, actually Jesus himself said to pray in an inner room like a closet in your home: Matthew 6:6 NASB - "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. You see, as I have heard it said, the secret to praying is praying in secret. Just like you would get alone with any person you want to grow in relationship with, prayer is our means to grow in God.  A simple acronym that we often tell YL kids about that helps as we pray is A.C.T.S. modeled after how Jesus himself told us to pray:

  • Adoration: Adoring the King for who He is, Our Father.
  • Confession: Releasing any sin that we may be carrying around to Him.
  • Thanksgiving: Thanking Him for what He has already done.
  • Supplication: Finally, putting our requests before Him.

The other day, we asked that folks would pray for Randi in regards to her pain level and medication.  It was an amazing thing to see those prayers answered so quickly.  When you prayed, God moved on the situation and it was as if pain medication was never a problem to begin with! We took the old pain medication that didn't work well after the first surgery and God graciously dealt with the pain in His providence.  Some might like to say this was a result of external circumstances.  I say it was eternal ones.

Last Monday night, Randi began to break out in hives all over her body.  It started on her arms and moved quickly down to her legs.  She described it as hot and itchy and the rash was very visible. As a husband, my first reaction was to 'fix' this with some sort of pill or method or phone call as tears poured down my sweet wife's face.  I immediately went to natural means to deal with the issue.  Then I prayed.  As quickly as it came, it left and Randi slept about as good as she has slept since surgery.  God loves to answer prayer!

It has also been our prayer from the very beginning that through our trials and triumphs, God would use our journey to supply encouragement to whoever might read this. That He might be made more famous even in our 'famine' and that you might know Him in a new way.  He has continued to answer this on a daily basis.  We have received many letters, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls from so many who have said that our story has provided them courage to walk through the darkest of valleys and faith to trust in the most trying of times.  I am so grateful to know that we have a God that is bigger than our situation.

A number of friends have commented that our faith is so strong.  I have tried to be quick to remind them that faith is only as strong as the object upon which it is trusting. For I can have faith that this chair that I am sitting in will hold me, but what if the chair is weak and it collapses?  You see, the faith in the chair is only as strong as the chair itself.  Likewise, prayer is only as powerful as the one to which the prayer is offered. Fortunately, we can call upon the One who is more powerful than any circumstance we face.  He is waiting for us, will you wait on Him? Jeremiah 33:3 NASB - 'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

Forever grateful for your prayers,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! We are constantly in prayer for you guys. Here is a poem that someone shared with me while Sophie was in the hospital. I love it, and re-reading it brings back memories of what God did in my heart during that time. It also reminded me of you guys, hope it blesses you as well.
    by Russell Kelfer

    Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
    Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
    I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
    And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

    "Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
    "Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
    Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
    By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

    "My future and all to which I relate
    Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
    I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
    Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

    "You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
    We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
    And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
    I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

    Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
    As my Master replied again, "Wait."
    So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
    And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

    He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
    and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
    I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
    I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

    "I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
    You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
    You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
    You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

    "You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
    You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
    You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
    When darkness and silence are all you can see.

    "You'd never experience the fullness of love
    When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
    You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
    But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

    "The glow of my comfort late into the night,
    The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
    The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
    From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

    "You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
    What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
    Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
    But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

    "So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
    That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
    And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
    My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."