I stood in the grocery line and wondered why the cashier was ignoring the customer…
Do you ever look back on something you asked for prayer about and think, wow, I was freaking out about something that was really nothing? Like you were a bit ashamed that you bothered people by asking them to pray for you?
This is totally me.
Recently, I had a big, giant day. It involved driving ten hours solo and one hour more (plus change) of being my best, most entertaining, most persuasive self so that my five-year-old would open his mouth for a necessary procedure he hates. Big stuff, right? Adding to that was the issue of being in the process of changing my anxiety meds. Which is a complicated and stressful process. But I’m a big girl – these are normal things in my life, and I’m equipped by God to handle them.
That morning, however, I woke up in a panic. Not whoa, I’m really nervous about this, but filled with terror down to my soul. Terror that causes weeping that not even my SSRI can dampen. Horror that snatches away my big-girl panties and any ability to just muscle through and leaves me literally huddled in the fetal position.
Since I’ve often encountered similar situations, I had a strategy in place. I alerted my prayer warriors. They are women who I know want God’s best for me over everything else. Sisters who rejoice with me and cry with me. They are willing to enter in my struggles, my pain, and fight with me and for me and take the problem straight to heaven’s doors. I have often asked them for prayer when I have to do something that I’m pretty sure I don’t have the ability to do. And this was just such an occasion.
As their prayers for me went up (which I knew because they commented on that Facebook post), I started to get God’s reassurance of His presence. The day continued on- hard, but I felt like I could do it. We got there and back safely. My son eventually submitted to the procedure. No great horror happened.
Doubt setting in
As I reflected the next morning on how smoothly it all went, I started feeling guilty about my panic. That I had practically forced these women to pray diligently throughout the day for something that ended up being okay. Like I was trying to convince myself not to get so worked up over things in the future.
This is when the Holy Spirit checked me. He graciously said, Who do you think made it turn out okay? He reminded me that things going well were the result of prayer. That He was granting impossible things like patience and energy.
And that I must not belittle prayers just because He answered them.
Prayer is such an interesting thing. Especially prayers of intercession. We are commanded to do it, to cast all your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7) and make our requests known to Him (Phil. 4:6). The Bible is full of instruction and examples of asking people to intercede for us and our responsibility to pray for others, such as 1 Timothy 2:1.
Yet intercessory prayer doesn’t control God. It’s not like He wasn’t thinking about helping and protecting me until my ladies brought His attention to it. He is perfect, all-knowing, and His ways are good and our prayers can’t make Him any better.
So what do our prayers do?
For one thing, prayers connect us with God. When we talk to people about what is valuable to us, what is on our hearts, there is connection there. Now, of course God knows what is valuable to you. That’s not a surprise to Him. But neither is your friend surprised that you value your kids when you share your concerns about them with her. God knows our needs, but talking about them builds connection.
Besides the relational aspect of prayer, intercession also releases God’s will in our lives so that we recognize His presence. If God wanted to do it anyway, why is the timing connected with our prayers? So we can know that He hears us and answers us 1 John 5:14–15!
This right here is why our enemy wants to get us belittling prayer in our lives! He doesn’t want us to make the connection between things that happen and God’s specific care for us. When we pray and see God’s answer, we understand His intimate love for us, the way He is personally leading us on our path.
Let’s go to the Throne of Grace more often! Let us unashamedly take our requests to the One Who hears us! We’ll carry each other’s burdens right to the One with the power to answer in the very best way. And, y’all, let’s intentionally look to see how He is answering our personal prayers. Because our prayers – and His answers – aren’t nothing.