As we focus upon prayer more frequently and are likely to encounter our need for it more intensely, I offer a few reminders you already know.
1.) Prayers are not Magic.
Prayers are not spells we can use to guarantee we will be exempt from trouble but are pathways where we can be prepared to face our troubles.
2.) Answered Prayers Are Mysteries.
We trust God hears us. We trust God will deliver us. But we never assume God’s rescue is the direct result of our living better lives or being better people. Good habits help, even while bad things can still happen to good people. We thank God for the good. We thank God for being with us when things are bad. And only God is wise enough to know the difference.
3.) Prayer is not an enemy of common sense.
Prayer is not a replacement for trusting in science or using evidence-based reasoning. We pray and get our flu shot. We pray and take our medicine. We pray and follow health guidelines. We pray while making preparations for tomorrow. We don’t pray, “Jesus take the wheel” and then close our eyes when we drive down the Interstate.
4.) Prayer is a Partner of Truth.
We pray and most times are given more mercy than we deserve, but prayer is not an excuse to absolve us of all responsibility. Sometimes we can only learn best or will only grow best when we are held accountable for the consequences of our actions or are faced with a crisis larger than our capacity to meet. We can throw up our hands in bewilderment or we can offer them in humble surrender to God.
5.) Prayer joins our Good Will with the Greater Good Will of God.
Prayer adds our tiny bits of hope, faith, love with all prayer partners, know and unknown praying all over the world. Together we seek God’s intervention, not knowing how, where or when God might act. The total contribution of all the hope, faith and love we offer God helps provide a wealth of resources God might use to offer back to the world where it’s most needed.
6.) Prayer changes us, prepares us and helps us see what yet can be revealed to come to pass.
When we pray, we open our lives to what God may teach us, where God may lead us, and what God may do through us. Prayer helps us perceive and appreciate the beauty of simple gifts and the essential necessity of all actions, small or large. Prayer prepares the inner life to face the outside storms. God’s power is revealed through our prayerful preparation as agents of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and benevolence.
7.) Prayer aligns us with the greatest truth of all — there is nothing greater than God’s great love for the world and all who live in it.
God has given humanity two great gifts: freedom and the calling to love. We need both. Without freedom, love can become manipulative and pushy. Without the calling to love, freedom is an excuse for selfishness, greed, and a desire to use others rather than serve them. Even in the failures of our misplaced love and the evils perpetuated upon one another by our misplaced freedoms, God persists in loving us and calling us to redemption and reconciliation.
We now enter into the saga of this great global anxiety and time of testing. I hope serious and fervent prayer will help straighten some of it out or at least, give us a clear path to follow, even while isolated and uncertain.
Be strong and with whatever may come ahead – join me in confessing:
God is loving us. God has not stopped loving us and God will love us through this.
God is not yet finished. Let us hold on. Let us persist. Let us hope. And Let us pray.