Have you ever felt the vibe that God is trying to tell you something? You know how it goes. Over the course of a weekend, you’ll hear a sermon, see several Facebook statuses, read a Bible verse, and have a conversation with a friend… all about one topic that has been on your heart lately. And it keeps happening until you get the picture! That’s how this week has been.
It all started when I was assigned to write about the importance and power of prayer for an extracurricular blog. I know this makes me sound like a pathetic Christian, but prayer has always been the topic with which I have wrestled nonstop since junior high, when I innocently and accidentally watched this Youtube video (disclaimer: it’s not worth 9 minutes of your time) by an atheist who drew a comparison between praying to God and praying to a milk jug for a million dollars. The video drew out and mocked the Christian-ese mantra, “Sometimes God says yes, sometimes God says no, and sometimes God says to wait.” Ultimately, what I took away from the video was the idea that prayer is as pointless as praying to a milk jug, because whatever is going to happen will happen anyway. Then, in a senior government class at my private high school, a class discussion on the power of prayer ended without a consensus on the question of whether or not praying even makes a difference.
I currently feel like I’m in prayer therapy on a therapist’s couch, but that’s where my schema of prayer was for several years. I know how to pray elaborate, spiritual prayers with plenty of trigger words, usually out of obligation and because I promised someone I would pray, or because a group was praying out loud – popcorn style.
So imagine how fake and uninformed I felt while trying to write authoritatively for this assignment about the immense power of praying in the Christian’s life and in the lives of those for whom they pray. I stared at a blank screen searching my mental backlog of Christian teaching for answers for longer than I’d like to admit. That’s when I noticed a few taps on my shoulder.
I texted my dearest friend Michelle, a sister I can always count on to encourage me and grow with me. I asked her opinion on why it is important for Christians to pray, and especially why we pray for missions. The first sentence of her reply was, “Because God told us to.” Gee, thanks. She continued, “He made prayer really powerful so that we can be part of the adventure, even if we aren’t the one to go on the mission.” Well, I guess He’s God, so He can make prayer powerful if that’s what He wants.
Then, the next day, my theology professor sent out an email containing his thoughts on prayer in preparation for the next class. (Have I mentioned how amazing it is to attend a Christian school?) He essentially articulated all of my doubts… but presented them both as valid Christian camps. But at least I knew that some other people thought the way I was starting to think. When I told Michelle that we were discussing this topic in class, she responded, “Looks a lot like Jesus is trying to teach you something.” She and my prayer leader Jessie both had similar comments: “I pray for you often, so it’s not like it came as a huge surprise.” I see… everyone’s involved in a big prayer conspiracy with Jesus and right now they’re all attacking at once.
But it has been an amazing ride thus far, and I feel like I’m still only on the runway. I have searched the facts in Scripture and I have chosen to believe that God has shaped his ultimate plan for us in a way that uses us, silly little humans that we are, to fulfill His purposes. Just like He chooses to use us for evangelism (when he could just show up in a burning bush to everyone who walks by), He chooses to give us the opportunity to be used and in the process, to join with him on a great adventure. Now, it’s not like we can pray for anything and just receive it. If I prayed for a million dollars (as the guy in the video brings up), God would be like, “Carissa, that’s a dumb idea because I have plans to use you in spite of what you consider poverty.” The more intimately we know God and the more closely we have seen how He works, the more our will can align with His will. If I pray for something that I believe is in His will because it is for His glory and it will advance His kingdom, then He loves to bring His children the joy of receiving great gifts from Him.
I just wanted to give you a little insight into what God has been teaching me from all sides lately. I’m a work in progress, so I know I don’t have deep spiritual knowledge or flawless theology. But I am learning, and the Lord is teaching me, and you’re welcome to come along for the journey.
When He starts to sneak those little hints, quotes, verses, and phone calls into your life, do yourself a huge favor and listen! Seriously, just shut up and be teachable. He has big plans for you, but you can’t get your instructions if you’re busy complaining or protesting.
Thanks for reading this blob of thoughts that I had to spill out. I love you! (Probably – I don’t actually know who you are, but most likely, you’re wonderful.)