When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, “What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?” Albert Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.” Leadership Journal (winter 1983) Prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Christian life, but also one of the great keys that open up to us the joy of knowing God.
My mother was a great spiritual influence on my life. I never remember her talking theology to me, but I remember she read me Bible stories and would delight in explaining them. I also remember watching her kneel down by her bed at night as she prayed for her family. Mom loved us with all her heart so she did the one thing that she knew would make a difference in our lives—she prayed.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, my mother had a one-track mind when it came to prayer; she wished to see her family become Christians. In all the years that she prayed and saw no response from us she never gave up. Years later when I asked her why she kept at it, she answered, “I knew it was what God wanted so I knew my prayers would be answered.”
God’s timetable isn’t our timetable when it comes to answering our prayers. To wait on God when we are bursting at the seams to see results is not easy, but it is at the core of what it means to trust in Him. It is easy to get discouraged when day after day nothing changes in our circumstances regardless of how sincere our prayers. We begin to think God doesn’t care about us, or we’re too sinful for God to respond to our pleas. All kinds of negative thoughts crowd into our minds and eventually we cease believing God hears us, let alone comes to our aid.
Jesus died on the cross so we could be reconciled to God. The cross was an invitation to come home to God where we find safety and peace. Do we think God calls us into the family to ignore us? You and I may want God to answer our prayers in a particular manner that is beneficial to us and we all too often want it to happen now. When God doesn’t respond as quickly or forcefully as we think, we have a tendency to take matters into our own hands and run ahead of God.
Over the next number of posts we are going to look a little deeper into prayer and its impact on our lives. I have many questions about prayer and how it works. I hope we will all share our insights and experiences with each other so we can learn and grow as Christians. I do know one important aspect about prayer, however, and that is God does answer. How I know that is simple, my brother, my sister and I all became Christians because our mother cared enough to never give up on her trust that God would answer her prayers.
“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, ‘in my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.’” Jonah 2: 1, 2 Even though Jonah was in the belly of a whale God still heard him, listened to him and delivered him. If God could deliver Jonah from the bottom of the ocean, He can deliver us. God is only a prayer away.
Don’t forget next week in the digging deeper section of this blog we are starting our study in Galatians. Let your friends know and invite them to study along with us. We will not only learn and share together, but we will also have fun unfolding the word of God. Please keep this study in your prayers.