I offered to pray for a mom who was angry and frustrated and grieving in the midst of more than she can bear.
To be clear, I had done what I could and connected her with resources in our community in addition to offering to pray but the offer to pray is what provokes this post. She turned with a venomous rage and cursing asked, “why would you pray in the midst of this?!” She wasn’t asking in a way that invited an answer, so I prayed for her silently as she turned her back, snatched up the arms of her kids and got in her car in the grocery store parking lot.
Her question is worth answering. Why pray in the midst of this?
At least six reasons come to mind:
- Pray provides perspective: Prayer lays claim to the reality of God’s perspective, the big picture, the redemptive arc. Prayer points beyond the temporal to the eternal and reminds us of who we are and HOW great is our God. God is bigger than the problems we face today and God’s mercies are new every morning. In Him we are safe and apart from Him we can do nothing.
- Prayer brings God’s promises into play: Prayer relies on the power and promises of God. The Bible is filled with promises and God is faithful to keep His Word.
- Prayer accesses power beyond me: there is power in the name of Jesus and God is mighty to save.
- Prayer is a public witness: When we bow our heads and fall to our knees and raise our hands and let the tears flow, the world is silenced and looks up with us to see if the One upon whom we call will answer. Spiritual leadership in Christ is not about being able to meet every need in the moment – is it about helping others perceive eternity – H.O.P.E. Our prayers, when prayed in public, for and with others, brings God back into the conversation, right where He belongs.
- Prayer is the means by which I praise and petition God: These two belong together in prayer. Even in lament, we honor God for who He is. I could not bow to pray in desperation were I not confident that God is merciful, steadfast and loving. Just as there are two sides to the prayer of confession – confessing my sin and confessing my faith in Christ’s power over sin – there are two sides to all prayer. There is the praise of the God who is there and there is petition that He might show up and show off right now – to His glory and for our good.
- Prayer provokes God’s providential care: there are some things God is going to do because of who He is and God is going to do those things whether we ask Him or not. And there are some things that God is only going to do if we ask in faith. When we acknowledge that God is God and we are not, we appeal to God’s providence to care and provide and protect. We appeal to God as our Father into whose sheltering arms we run. Sometimes there is literally nothing else we can do. End of our resources, end of our ideas, end of our proverbial rope – God must provide a way. We trust His providence and we rest in His sovereign grace because, in the end, God is God and He is good.
Jesus prayed and Jesus instructed his followers to pray, and so, I pray. That’s the short answer but Jesus is the short answer to most questions these days. As you pray today, remember the mother and her kids I met in the grocery store parking lot. Many people are hurting today in ways they have never experienced and did not anticipate. God is getting lots of blame, which He can handle. But the people of God must bear witness to His goodness and the sufficiency of His very present grace even as people turn with hostility toward Him.
In these most extraordinary of days, let us pray – even if in the moment we don’t know why.
Pray with me…
Join me Saturday, April 4, 9-10 am central when I’ll co-host an hour of prayer and testimony with my Faith Radio colleagues, Susie Larson and Bill Arnold. You can listen live on the Faith Radio App and online at MyFaithRadio.com. You can participate by calling 877-933-2484 during the broadcast or by recording a prayer request or testimony at the same number any hour of the day or night. Just press 1 to leave me a message on the FaithLine.