Here at the Summit, our pastoral team has put forward a vision for 2018 as The Year of Prayer. We’re excited to see what God will do in our church as we commit to growing in this area. (Because if we’re honest, very few of us feel like we have a healthy and robust prayer life.)
As we’ve been preparing for this Year of Prayer, we’ve gone back to find some helpful articles from the vault. If you like what you see, click the title for the full article.
We can’t force God to answer our prayers. But I can guarantee this: he’s not going to answer your prayers if you aren’t praying them. Are we out praying for people—for our unbelieving neighbors, for our family, for our co-workers, for our baristas and servers? People may be resistant to hearing the gospel, but they are far more receptive to having you pray for them. So ask how you can pray for them, listen to what they say, and then … do it.
Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” That sounds wonderful, but I’m guessing you hear a quote like that the same way I do—with a strong dose of skepticism.
The world around us certainly doesn’t seem to be governed and guided by prayer. It’s full of pain, sorrow, doubt, and loss. Sometimes the chaos we experience can leave us feeling crushed. Even if we aren’t personally suffering, all it takes is a quick glance at our social media feeds to feel like the forces of darkness are winning.
But that sense of vulnerable weakness is actually the context within which God moves.
Jesus tells us to pray like children. The stories he commends about adults praying actually make them sound like children. Think about the parable of the friend who comes banging on your door at midnight and won’t leave you alone. Or the persistent widow, who keeps badgering the unjust judge until he grants her request (just to get her off his back). The heroes in these prayer stories are people who just come and talk and ask for whatever they need. Just like our kids.
Martin Luther pointed out that the story of Jacob wrestling with God (in Genesis 32) gives us a picture of wrestling with a seemingly hostile God in prayer.
This is a startlingly common image in Scripture. Think of the Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus to get healing for her daughter. Jesus’ response is downright harsh: “Woman, it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Mark 7:27). Yes, you read that right; Jesus called the woman a dog. (I’ve read commentators try to explain this away, as if the word he used meant a cute, little dog. I’m unconvinced. No woman has ever wanted to be called a dog, even if it’s a cute one.) Does Jesus actually want to send the woman away? No. He is going to heal her, but at first he appears hostile and indifferent.