A few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article on the topic of prayer for a local church’s monthly newsletter. I decided to post it here, as it’s a good reminder for everyone, including myself. The last couple of weeks were kind of rough for me emotionally, and several times God reminded me of my own words that I had just written- to persevere in prayer even when I was discouraged.
Prayer is something I have struggled with for most of my life as a believer, but in recent years I have been convicted that it’s definitely something I need to devote more time to. God has used marriage and motherhood to show me how much I really do need to depend on Him, instead of relying on my own resources and abilities, and I am working to prioritize prayer everyday.
The article needed to be less than 500 words, so this post might be the shortest one I’ve ever written. I should probably work on trying to get to my point quicker in my writing too 🙂
It’s easy to get discouraged when we pray for something for weeks, months, or even years, with no indication of whether or not we will see our prayers answered in the way we hoped. Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing that our prayers alone won’t make a difference. But James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Not multiple righteous people… one righteous person. God doesn’t require hundreds of people praying in order for Him to act. Elijah was one man, and God answered his prayers for rain. Hannah was one woman, and God answered her prayers for a child. Moses was one man who prayed (on multiple different occasions) that God would not destroy the disobedient, rebellious Israelites, and God relented. Elisha was one man who prayed for the Shunammite woman’s dead son, and God raised him back to life.
Of course, as we all know, there’s no guarantee God will answer our prayers, even if we persistently pray and our motives are pure. Jesus Himself asked God to spare Him from the cross, but ended with this important statement: “Not my will, but yours, be done.” There are many things about life that we will simply never understand. That’s why it’s so important to trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness. If our prayers are not answered, we can trust that God is still in control, and that He has a good plan for our lives. It’s also helpful to remember that the ultimate goal of prayer is not for us to get what we want. Regular prayer deepens our relationship with God and helps us to recognize the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It changes our desires to be more in line with His. It allows us to humble ourselves before Him, to express our total dependency on Him for everything, and acknowledge His power and wisdom. It teaches us to rely on His strength instead of our own. It gives us an opportunity to praise and thank Him for who He is and for His blessings.
So don’t give up. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Make connection with God a priority in your day. Invite Him into your life, ask for direction, seek His wisdom in your decisions. Have faith in the character of God and in His timing. God hears us, and always does what’s best for us, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Your prayers may be answered, but if they’re not, you’ll end up with something better anyway- a closer relationship with the almighty God of the universe, and confidence in His perfect plan for your life.