Monday, November 7, 2011

Prayer Makes a Difference

A place of prayer in the Cathedral of Lincoln
     If I were to name my favorite prayer closet, it would have to be my car for this is where I seem to be away from outside interruptions as I drive to my destination (don't worry, I keep my eyes open).  This was the place that I encountered the presence of God so clearly yesterday.  Lately, I have been heavily grieved and burdened in my heart over several things not the least of which is the ongoing struggle our grandson is having with seizures.  Daily I have spent time talking to God about these heartaches, but yesterday was different.
     My son had called me up with the news that our grandson was traveling to All Children's Hospital due to some congestion and concern about the seizures.  He was taking care of two year old Briggs and baby Beckett, so he suggested we have dinner together since I was also alone (my husband was away at an education meeting).  I happily packed up some easy to fix things and hopped in my car to make the twenty minute drive to his home.
     On the way, I began once again to talk with the Lord about the burdens in my heart.  However, this time, I told Him I just needed to feel His arms around me and His grace and comfort.  I told Him that I knew He was the only one who could give me peace in the middle of many uncertainties.  Perhaps, I was more honest with the Lord of my life than I had ever been before as I sought His wisdom and understanding.  As I drove along, the sun came out from behind a cloud, and at that moment while I was praying, I felt the presence of the Lord in a way that comforted me, gave me peace and assured me of His continued guidance.  What a prayer session and time of fellowship with the Lord!  I felt refreshed, blessed, and encouraged as I talked with Him.
     Often times, we can get into a rut with our prayer lives forgetting that we are in the presence of our Holy God.  We may mumble a "hello" in the morning and at bedtime, just like we accuse teens of doing when their mind is somewhere else, but this is not what prayer is meant to be.  Scripture gives us help when it comes to prayer, and offers us guidance as we talk with the Lord.
     First and foremost, prayer is not a once a day practice, but according to the Word, we are to pray without ceasing.  Paul writes on several occasions about this.  In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, he writes:  "Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty.  To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding on behalf of all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18 Amplified version).  Then again in I Thessalonians 5:17, he writes:  "Be unceasingly in prayer [praying perseveringly]."  Finally, to the Colossians, he writes:  "Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2 Amplified Bible).  If this were not an important characteristic of prayer, Paul would not have repeated this exhortation so many times.  As God's children, we are meant to be in communication with Him not once or twice but unceasingly as the Apostle wrote in his letters.
Another prayer chapel where people could
light a candle and pray in Lincoln Cathedral
     Secondly, when we do not know what to pray or how to say it, we have a helper that makes clear to our heavenly Father just what needs to be said.  In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul writes:  "So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance" (Romans 8:26 Amplified Bible).  We can rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is able to bring to the Father our requests.  Certainly, I struggle for words at times not knowing what to say, but the Holy Spirit is ever present as our Helper.
     Finally, prayer changes us.  In Acts 4, the disciples were warned not to preach in the name of Jesus.  However, they didn't react by asking God to change their circumstances, but instead they asked that the Lord would "...grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word...." (Acts 4:29).  These men believed that as they spoke with boldness telling about the Lord Jesus Christ many more miracles would be done.  Certainly, they would face more difficulties as a result of their speaking, but they wanted God to give them the boldness rather than change the circumstances.
     Another example of God changing us through prayer is found in the life of the Apostle Paul.  We know that Paul suffered with some physical malady.  Paul prayed three times for his circumstances with this "thorn in the flesh" to change, but God replied "My grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  Paul came to realize that God had allowed this thorn so that he would not be "exalted above measure" (2 Cor. 12:7).  There are times when God allows the difficult circumstances of life to remain so that we will be changed and turn to Him.  In Paul's case, pride could easily have risen up if this "thorn in the flesh" was not there.  We need to remember that it is not so important what happens to us but it is more important what happens in us.  Prayer brings about a change in our thinking, and God's goal is to conform our thinking and our lives to that of His dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
A quiet place to pray on our property.
     Admittedly, nothing in terms of my circumstances had changed as I drove to my son's house the other day.  However, my encounter with the Living God changed me.  I felt His peace, His loving arms around me and His presence.  It was enough.  This calmed my fears, healed my hurt and gave me encouragement to keep on keeping on.  In addition, we received word later in the evening that our grandson would not have to stay at the hospital overnight which was a blessing and an answer to prayer.
     Prayer makes a powerful difference in our lives.  It is a privilege to be able to come into the throne room of God and talk with Him.  This is what Jesus Christ made possible to all of us who are believers.  His  sacrifice upon the cross tore the veil that separated us from God.  Why would we neglect the opportunity to commune with our Creator?  He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He is available around the clock.  He doesn't put us on hold and play elevator music in our ear nor do we have to press 1 to leave a message.  Of all the communication devices we have, none compare with the connection we have with God.  Take time today and pray.  Pray without ceasing and pour out your heart to God.  He will hear and answer.  He may not change your circumstances but He will change you.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts about prayer and what it has meant to you.  Please feel free to share here.

Please do not forget to go to "Heavenly Springs" blog by clicking on the picture to the left of the Women of the Reformation to read the wonderful stories of these women of faith.


Libby said...

In the days when I was a busy mom, I use to call the steering wheel in my car my "altar". It seemed my most meaningful prayer time and revelations from the Lord occurred there. The Lord will always meet us right where we are..physically, emotionally and spiritually. He is so wonderful like that!

Patricia said...

I wrote about having an "all access" pass and I try to remember that there is never a moment that I'm not wearing it. Quite often when I'm alone in the car, God will speak to turn off the radio and just talk to Him while I drive. It quite often results in a change in my heart - a joy restored or faith built up - more than anything else.

Keeping Reid's beautiful family in prayer...all of you.

Pam said...

What an uplifting post, Barbara. Thank you! And so glad your grandson got to come home and not stay overnight at the hospital. Praying that the seizures are controlled.

Barbara Thayer said...

I thank each of you for coming by and visiting my site and sharing how the Lord has used your car too! Seems like it is the only place I can really get alone with the Lord...away from everything!!! I also thank you for praying for our grandson Branson. God is at work and we have yet to see what He will do in this situation. May you all have a blessed day today!