Daniel 3:16-18, Luke 18:1-8, Philippians 4:6-7, Hebrews 10:19-23
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2)
There once was this 3-year-old boy who was in the hospital with a viral infection in the blood stream. He was lying in his hospital bed with IV’s and other needles probing into him. The doctors were at a loss about what they could do to bring this little boy back from the brink of death. They had tried everything and the boy seemed to not be responding well to any of the treatments they were giving him. His parents were so distraught fearing the inevitable that their son would probably not make it through.
Being a people of faith, the boy’s parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents had asked their churches to keep their son in their prayers. Prayer was all that they had left, it was the only thing they, or anyone else (including the doctors), could do at this point. Either the boy was going to pull out of this fine or he was going to die at the age of 3. What a horrible thing for any parent to have to go through.
Finally, on a Sunday morning, the church of the little boy (and no doubt the other churches as well) were gathering to meet for their Sunday morning worship. And during that worship service they stood, circled around the sanctuary, and gathered hands to pray that this boy be healed. Within the very hour that they met for worship and prayed, the little boy sat up in his hospital bed and said to his parents and to the other people in the room, “Jesus healed me. Jesus healed me.” Indeed, he had been healed and when the doctors came in upon hearing the news, they too said that they had witnessed a miracle.
The above story I know to be a true one, because the little boy in that story was me. I know the power of prayer, because I have witnessed it throughout my life. From the time I was afflicted with a viral infection in my bloodstream to the times as a teenager and young adult that I was lost in depression and anxiety, I have felt the presence and power of prayer in my life. I would not be where I am today, if I would be at all, if it were not for prayer. I am not just talking about other people praying for me, but my own personal prayer life as well.
Now, I am not one to say that prayer always “works” out in our favor, and that if you do not get what you want you must not be “praying right” or “praying hard enough.” The power of prayer is not that it is the greatest magic trick in the universe, calling into being whatever the prayerful person wishes. There are plenty of stories that counter my own, where people pray for someone to be healed and the healing never comes. Those people are no less faithful than my parents and family are and it would be theologically and morally irresponsible to say otherwise. Even Jesus prayed for the cup of his suffering to be taken from him, only to find out it had NOT been taken away. (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42)
Rather, the power of prayer lies within the core of our soul. It’s power lies in its ability to give us hope, even in the face of despair. Prayer helps us connect with the hope that lies with in us, namely the love and presence of God, even when we feel like we are alone in the valley of the shadow of death. Prayer anchors us in the rock of faith. It prepares us for the worst but never lets us lose hope for the best. It enables us to see the best out of the worst situations. Prayer pushes us to action rather than to the stagnation of complacency.
If there is one thing we should never cease doing as Christians, let it be that we never cease praying. Know that there is healing power in prayer regardless of the outcome. Even when people do not recover from illnesses, or wars do not cease to exist, or injustices do not go away, there is miraculous healing in the act of prayer. The miracle is not in the outcome, but in the act of prayer itself. Pray and experience its healing power.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Pray, pray, pray! We’ve got to pray just to make it today.” —M.C. Hammer
Lord, let the prayers of my heart reflect your will. Use me to bring hope, healing and wholeness, through prayer and action, in my life and in the lives of others. Amen.