Today is the one day each year the U.S. government officially asks us to pray, the National Day of Prayer. There’s a whole lot of COOL STUFF going on at the National Day of Prayer Website. Check it out.
Based on stories I hear, some people routinely receive miraculous answers to prayer. Not me. Those lucky providentially favored prayer winners obtain inexplicable healings, sudden cash windfalls, compliant children, painless wart removal, and free dental work all in answer to a day’s prayer. How do they do that?
When I pray, I so often get a quiet room and a few yawns to suppress. What gives? Maybe they have secret prayer words. Or know the secret handshake. Or are more deserving than me.
Nah… the only reason God ever answered anybody’s prayer is because of Jesus, crucified and risen again. I need no other argument. I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me… right? The day God answers our prayers because we are eloquent, or obedient, or compliant, we should stop praying in Jesus’ name.
My six year old son has spontaneously begun praying for President Obama. He told me, “Everybody’s talking about Barak Obama, but why do we forget to pray for him.” Chagrined, I smiled and said, “You’re right, we should pray for him.” He hasn’t missed a night since then. “And please bless Barak Obama and if he isn’t a Christian, soften his heart and make him one so he can follow Jesus, and make him a very, very, very wise President.” My son believes in prayer. He prays for the president right after he prays that his little dog, Popcorn, doesn’t get eaten by coyotes. He never misses that prayer either.
My prayer time follows the Lord’s Prayer pattern. I think God is happy with any pattern. He just likes it when we pray.
But why don’t I see more prayer-answer-spurts?
Because God moves in geologic time.
V e r y s l o w l y…
- “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.” Psalms 90:4, NKJV.
- “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8, NKJV.
Sometimes, it feels like it.
I prayed for a beautiful, smart, sweet, fun, sexy wife, and we’ve been married all these years. I prayed for healthy children, and I have two fantastic kids, so much fun I’d like to freeze them and keep them at this age. I prayed for a nice house, and I live in a r-e-a-l-l-y nice house. I prayed for a chance to preach, and I preach. I prayed for a chance to write, and I write. I prayed for God to use me to see lots of people come to Jesus, and he has… over 20 last weekend alone.
None of these things happened fast. In fact, the time gap between the prayer and the answer makes it easy to disconnect the two. A skeptic would argue that they are not connected at all–just chance occurrences. But I know better.
God answers prayer.
- Yes, prayer changes me, but that’s not all it does. Prayer changes the course of events in my life and my world. God has pre-factored my prayers into his providential plan for the world. Prayer doesn’t just change me, it changes history.
It’s just hard to wait for God to close the gap between my prayer and his answer. Some of those gaps won’t be closed till heaven. As a creature of time, I suffer an artificially compressed time horizon. A day, or ten days, or a month… seems long, like waiting in an airplane, on the tarmac, in a snowstorm. But God works in 10,000 year increments, and all the WAITING I’ve done hardly registers as a blip on his screen.
“‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:3, NKJV.
And if you’re in Redding, CA, join us tonight for a Concert of Prayer. We together make the concert with our prayers and worship. And we have an audience of ONE. Come join us at 6:30 p.m. to pray for our nation and our city and our church and our households. Stammer out your prayers. Stutter them. Murmur them. Whisper them. Eloquence is irrelevance. The God who hears and answers on account of Jesus is all that matters.