Monday, January 19, 2009

The Power of Prayer. Really?

Much of my life is built around prayer, but it took some time to arrive at the place I am now, which is not the destination, but merely a point along the journey.

My prayer life is ever-evolving, something like a winding path through time. There is urgent prayer, when you or someone you love has an acute need that sends you to your knees. There is distant prayer, where you are talking to the Father about daily life, but without much deep thought toward what you are praying about. There is fundamental prayer, gratuitous prayer, prayers of angst, prayers of solitude, and what I call "list prayers" - where you write down things to pray for. By the way, these are all merely Holly definitions of types of prayers that I personally have been known to partake in.

I spent quite a bit of time in polite prayer. We're talking a few years. This time was spent in earnest, belief-filled prayer; but I wouldn't go past some invisible, ambiguous self-imposed point of what I really thought I deserved to have answered. My prayers were filled with all kinds of ways of saying what boils down to "if you think this is best . . . whatever you decide . . . whatever is your will . . ." etc.
These are all fine sentiments, but don't you think God would like for his children to sometimes be a bit less wishy-washy? I mean, how annoying is it sometimes when you and a friend are trying to figure out a place to meet for lunch and she just keeps saying, "Oh, whatever you want is fine ..."

I finally matured in my relationship with Christ enough to come to the conclusion that it is absolutely ridiculous not to expect that my prayers will be answered; but how can that be if I am not specific in what I am saying? If I absolutely believe that I am conversing with God (which I do), then why would I not then be expecting an answer?

The other side of that coin is that you have to know God well enough to know that He indeed will answer you, but that does not mean He will answer how you have asked Him to - or even in a way that you like at all.

In the same way that we cannot, as wives, dictate how our husbands respond to every sentence that comes out of our mouths, we cannot expect that God will answer us in a way that we have predetermined. It is, after all, a conversation, not a script written by us. Your relationship with Christ must evolve to the point that your eyes can see not only what you have asked to happen, but the hand of God working in your life in ways that you never imagined.

My relationship with Him is at the very edge of that arena, as I have moved from polite prayer to expectant prayer. When I pray for my best friend's day, I expect that His hand will be felt in her world in some way. Her daughter may end up having an absolutely terrific afternoon with little whining; her son may be a delight for the dinner hour; she may find herself with 10 extra minutes of quiet time just before it's time to start bath and bedtime.

I believe it - and I look for it.

Sometimes my focus is a little fuzzy, and often I'm looking in completely the wrong direction and I get discouraged. That is just life in this world. Sometimes it just stinks. That's where friends, family, God's word, and another good ol' expectant prayer comes in.

I can't imagine living without faith. Sometimes when I fall into bed exhausted from my life, it's all I have to hang on to.