This morning several prayer requests were sent out to NCC via e-mail... and I know that there are many more things that we are praying for as a church family that were not on that list. I don't claim to know what all of you are feeling this morning, or that I can predict what the rest of today will bring about, but I do know that there is power in prayer.
A few months ago, Pastor Aaron Welch asked me, “Do you believe prayer changes things?” I felt like it was a trick but answered, “Of course! Prayer absolutely changes things.” Then he replied with a follow up question, “Me too, but how does prayer change things?” I sat there in his office, sifting silently through my thoughts trying to gather a coherent string of words... “I will have to get back to you,” I finally answered.
This, “Me too, but how?” question sent me into a personal quest for an explanation. I began to look through Scripture at prayers that led to immediate change, at results that took time, and at prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Journey Youth Ministry recently finished a Wednesday Series called Monumental. The idea behind Monumental is that we believe God is wanting to do supernatural work within the lives of our students, throughout our church family, and for our community. During this series we dissected Ephesians 3:12-20 and worked our way through the question of, “How does prayer change things?” In future posts I will add pieces of this conversation with the hope that it will encourage all of you to press deeper into Him within your personal prayer lives. But before we go into depth about the “how”, we need to agree that prayer does in fact make a difference.
There is a great deal of power in prayer - not because our words are eloquent or especially creative - but because we are praying to a God who has the ability to answer far more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) I recognize that there are times when events happen that make the world seem to turn suddenly dark, or cause the future to become even more unclear. Some of these times for me have been when I struggled through fits of depression and with social anxiety. Or when I got the news that my dad was diagnosed with cancer, causing him a great deal of pain, and treatment was not helping. Or times more recent, like last night, as I was sitting at home watching my newest binge show and got a phone call from a buddy that one of our good friends was just in a car accident and did not make it. In these moments, because we are a part of humanity, it can often be tempting to doubt God’s goodness. But thankfully, we know that the Lord's faithfulness is not determined by our circumstances!
Some of the hardest prayers I have ever prayed were within these moments. “God, I don’t get it. I don’t see what you’re doing. I don’t like how this is going. But still You are good. Still You are faithful. I know that You hold me even now. And I know that You are gentle.”
This morning I woke up with a song already playing in my mind, "Through it all, through it all, it is well... So let go, my soul, and trust in Him." As the phone has continued to ring this morning with church family asking to be added to the prayer list... and as my Facebook News-feed was flooded with reminders that my friend had passed away... I found myself clinging to the truth of those lyrics above.
Prayer doesn’t take back the things that have happened. Nor is it a magical act that gives us what we want, when we want it, just because we want it. But prayer does change things. Prayer is a conversation with our Creator. Prayer is communion with our Father. Prayer shapes us to become more like God, and as we become more like Him, we begin to love like Him, and serve like Him, and respond like Him. Prayer allows God to move within our lives, shift our priorities, soften our hearts, and cleanse our souls. Prayer is an avenue that we can use to surrender ourselves and our plans to the Lord. Prayer invites His Spirit to come and be with us. Prayer opens the door for us to experience Him personally. Prayer infuses strength into others as we intercede on their behalf. Prayer may not be a snap of our fingers that fixes of our circumstances - but prayer does change things.
It is well, because He is good. The things that are beyond my control are not beyond His. This promise is where our strength derives and our hope can rest.
To end this post, I want to share a Psalm with you that has brought me incredible comfort this morning and I hope it will offer the same for you... Wherever this finds you, I pray that the Word of God will speak directly to your spirit as I believe it can.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Director of Student Ministries