Writing this was a struggle largely because getting sleep was a struggle. I sent a blackberry message to a friend last night (out the blue) simply saying “My father and I had a blow up last week. I don’t know what to do about it, or if I need to do anything at all. But this bothers me…why am I telling you this? Nite.” I proceeded to roll over and go to sleep, when my phone rings…it was my friend whom I just sent a text. I asked how his day was (knowing that was not the reason he called), and he spoke briefly about his day. I proceeded to give my “spiritual” advice as to his situation–which he received. He then stopped and said, “Well, I didn’t call to talk about me…I called to talk about you and your father. So what happened this time?” My friend correctly said “this time” because the disagreements between my father and I are darn-near legendary. I hesitated to tell him the situation, but his persistence led to me eventually revealing what happened, and how “my dad did this AND my dad did that AND how it is affecting the family AND how I was there for him AND how it was wrong for him to yell at me AND…I literally could keep going about the situation,” but I stopped.
“I am sorry for what your family is going through.”
“Do you want to pray…for your father?”
“Ummm….to be honest…no, not really.”(insert AWKWARD SILENCE here).
Realizing that was probably not the most “Christian” thing to say, I quickly added “Oh, but we can.” My friend chuckled and said “think about it and we’ll pray about it tomorrow.”
I do not know if I EVER turned down prayer! But if this is truly my first time turning it down, the enemy got a (temporary) victory over the situation. The devil, recognizing how powerful talking with God is, would love for nothing more than for one of God’s children to not communicate with their Father. It always used to kill me when people would say “Well, all I can do is pray.” WHAT!!!! PRAYER IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON OF A CHRISTIAN! We are instructed to “seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6). God has been WAITING for me to call upon Him–to put “me” aside and allow Him to step in the situation. In James 5:13, a simple question is asked: “Is anyone among you afflicted? Then He should pray.” That word “afflicted” in this context means “ill-treated” or “suffering evil.” God knows when we are mistreated and when havoc is running in our lives–yet, He loves us so much that He GIVES US THE ANSWER to our very problem! I am reminded “not to fret or be anxious about anything, but in every situation and in everything, by prayer and petition (a specific request), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.” (Philippians 4:6). If you are anything like me, sometimes it can be hard to pray for SPECIFIC things. I don’t know, maybe I get tricked into thinking that I am being too selfish. But God wants us to do that very thing! He wants us to reveal to Him those things which we desire because it is an expression of our faith that He has the power to complete and perform what we cannot do ourselves.
Some people don’t have a problem asking God for what they want (“God, please send me a Beemer, Benz, or Bentley. In Jesus name thanks)…but they leave out THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving is the opportunity to tell God how great He is and to remind ourselves of His faithfulness in our lives. So “prayer” is like a BLT sandwich–to be effective you need all ingredients. Your prayer should be a TALK with God where you can TELL Him specifically what you need and THANKING Him for what He had already done (and for solving your problem, in advance).
So I had to remind myself of the following “prayer nuggets” and hopefully it’ll bless another who may be struggling to pray about something:
* When you pray…keep praying! And don’t forget that prayer is a sandwich–PETITION unto God with your specific requests; PRAISE God for all that He has done in your life. God INHABITS (rests, lives, resides, dwells) in the PRAISES of HIS PEOPLE! (Psalm 22:3). Your call to HIM draws Him closer to you, creating a “ladder” for Him to step down into your situation. Need help? Get a prayer partner! “…I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name (the name of Jesus), I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20).
* Pray for others. (“Pray at all times in the Spirit…interceding in behalf of all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18). It is not just about YOU! Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs come when you unselfishly pray for your friends, family, and yes, even those who treated you wrong. We are not supposed to go to sleep angry (Ephesians 4:24) and we are told to forgive how many times? Not seven. Not seventy. BUT seventy TIMES seven. (Matthew 18:21-23). Harboring wickedness in your heart distances you from God, for it is written that the “Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29). Do not lose your rightful position because of the faults of others. Humble yourself–Pray. For yourself. For them.
*“Praise be to God, Who has not rejected my prayer, nor removed His mercy and loving-kindness from being with me.” (Psalm 66:20). Sometimes, it is very easy to forget that WE can be a thorn in someone else’s life as well; that we commit wrongs and need prayer from others too. We must never forget that God ‘s mercies are new every morning! We do not deserve grace or mercy or favor! He gives it freely–and as I am reminded of His kindness, I wonder “who am I do be upset with ANYONE when I know I haven’t been perfect myself?” Others have had to forgive me or pray on my behalf…I must do the same.
* Vengeance is not OURS! IT IS THE LORD’S! Bottom line, we can’t attack those who do us wrong because it is not our place to. We are commanded to “pray for those who persecute” us. (Matthew 5:44). Prayer IS our weapon!
* “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that it is granted to you, and you will (receive).” (Mark 11:24). Bottom line–God doesn’t lie! If He said that prayer works, then it does. If you truly want closure to any situation that is not healthy, or an open door, or whatever it is you are seeking–PRAY! Don’t make it the last thing to do on your list…make it the first. You may save yourself a lot of time!
As for me…I woke up this morning, asked my FATHER in heaven to forgive me, thanked Him for another day, and prayed specifically for my father on earth.
“Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.” (Leviticus 19:17).
Even the saints struggle with the basics 🙂