Author: Melinda McCredie
Prayer is something that God has been challenging me about a lot lately. It seems that every where I turn, people are talking about or teaching about prayer. Even the new series we have just started at church is called, you guessed it, Prayer!
I’m the first to admit that I have found prayer difficult at times. Sometimes I wonder why we pray at all if God already knows everything we need. Yet we read so many times in the Bible that we are commanded to come before God in prayer with thanksgiving, petitioning Him for our needs.
There have been times where I have received a definitive answer to my prayers. Tangible proof that God does indeed hear me. But there are also those times where it seems like I’ve been forgotten, and God doesn’t really hear me at all, or worse, He doesn’t care.
I often struggle to reconcile these two versions of God.
God not only told us to pray, He gave us many illustrations of how to do it. The Lord’s prayer and the Psalms are just a couple of well-known examples. God’s people cried out to Him in prayer over and over, and He answered them. Sometimes that answer was immediate, other times it felt like they waited forever.
I have noticed a similar pattern in my own life. Sometimes God’s answer is so stunning, so powerful, that there is simply no other explanation. Other times it feels like years of prayer and petitioning have led to nothing. It’s frustrating sometimes to feel like your prayers are going nowhere.
But even when I don’t want to pray, I do it because God commands me to.
The hardest time to pray is when we feel disheartened. What do you do when God doesn’t do what you think He should? When you just can’t understand what’s happening or why God hasn’t done something about it? How do you feel when God grants someone close to you an answer to prayer while you’re in a season on waiting? Or blesses your enemy?
When I encounter situations like this, my first response is usually anger. Then I move on to my other old friend, self-pity. I’m sad to say that sometimes I can stay in that place for far too long. I’m not above taking my frustrations out on God and telling Him what I think He should do.
But what an incredibly gracious God we serve. One who not only puts up with our fears and doubts but allows us to come back to Him and repent a thousand times over and offers us forgiveness and unconditional love.
One of the great mysteries of God is that we were never meant to understand His ways.
I went through a difficult time with my family many years back. My girls were hurt by someone we should have been able to trust. I was so angry at God, and I prayed and prayed for justice to be done. We are still waiting for that to happen.
I remember being so upset at Church. I didn’t want to be there, much less worship a God I thought had let us down so badly. What I didn’t see at the time were the faithful friends God has surrounded me with that kept encouraging me to come back. I went for their sake, certainly not for mine.
But as I sat there in the service week after week, refusing to sing or pray, I learned something of the nature of God. He had never left me. Just by showing up, I was enabling Him to find a way to work in my life.
Prayer and worship is a choice that I have the power to make.
The thing about God is that He did know what I needed, even though I didn’t. He answered so many prayers that I didn’t even pray! He healed our family and taught us the power of forgiveness. And because of His faithfulness to us over so many years, I have the faith to trust my unanswered prayers to His timing.
A dear friend once said to me that if we keep praising and worshipping, even when we don’t feel it, our hearts will eventually catch up. This is such a powerful truth, and I have seen the evidence of it in my own life.
So I keep turning up, and I keep asking God to teach me to pray. Because I know in my heart that His ways are better than mine, especially when I don’t understand.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess 5:16-18 NIV