Short Meditations in Philippians: 2. Heart Prayer
Phil 1:9a And this is my prayer
Prayer is a strange thing. In some ways it is the most obvious of Christian disciplines, but having said that even unbelievers pray in a crisis. And they and we alike, so often want something to change and so we pray in the hope that just maybe God might turn up and pay attention to what is going on with us, have compassion and act on our behalf and ‘answer’ the prayer and bring the change we have asked for. It is very simple – and yet so profound.
I say profound because the obvious truth is that we are praying to a person and people can either listen or not and even if He does listen He may not agree with what we’ve just asked and so there is little chance that He will do what we asked.
Now I saw in story form just recently what struck me as a very simple and obvious reason why God doesn’t just leap in and intervene in human affairs at every moment, stopping every wrong thing happen. In this story someone was questioning ‘God’ about why He didn’t do that and He answered something like, “Well, you want independence from me and I respect and love you and so have given you that independence, so you have free will and I allow you so much of the time to live with the consequences of that free will so you will learn what is good and what is not.”
I mention this because I have recently been watching the Internet notice board of a certain church and I have noticed a number of people asking for prayers of intervention from the rest of us for their families or friends who are seriously ill, going through difficult circumstances etc., and yet, and here is the strange thing, most of these people don’t believe in healing prayer – yet they still asked. If I said, would you come with me and the two of us will pray over your friend for healing, I think I know what their response would be – but they still ask for prayer. Why? Because so often prayer is our last resort action – at least in our thinking, even if not in our actions.
If God knows best – and He does – shouldn’t our first step be to ask for a sense of His will, and then wait and listen? How often do we demand answers without thinking whether this is genuinely God’s desire for this person?
This is the mystery of prayer – and it is linked to life: God knows everything that is going on (so don’t pray information prayers, He knows!) and He could already have stepped in, but hasn’t. Why not? What does He want to do in this situation, and what does He want my part to be in bringing change? If I dare pray, I should dare to be available for whatever He might want to do. Prayer is a two way street.