Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everyday Prayers

I continue to be challenged by the book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. He has obviously thought much more deeply about prayer than I ever have. He has also studied the life and teaching of Jesus about prayer.

I have come to the point that I no longer jump right in to pray for a given situation. I don’t know what to pray. I have to come before God and ask him about the need, the situation. “What do you want to happen, Lord?” Sometimes I still don’t know. Sometimes he leads me to a new understanding, and from that perspective, I can pray effectively.

But one of the most challenging statements from Murray is that we should be seeing answers to prayer every day. He doesn’t mean praying for general good health or for the sun to rise. He means specific answers to specific prayers every day.

It often strains my thinking to remember the last time I had a specific prayer answered. Yes, God provides for my family, he helps people mature in their faith. He helps our children mature and learn.

Then, too, Jesus has worked significant work in the lives of friends. Several people have been healed of cancer, one healed of kidney stones. God used our prayers to help two little children from Uganda come home to live with their adoptive parents in Winston-Salem, NC. God has always provided meeting space for our church, and we have regularly prayed about that.

But I can’t say that I see God answering specific prayers every day. I’m not there yet. That could be because I’m not praying about enough things. No doubt. It is also because I don’t yet know the mind of Christ well enough to know what to pray. As he shapes my thinking and understanding, my prayers are bound to become more effective.

Murray makes the point that most Christians believe that the fellowship found in prayer makes the effort worthwhile. But Jesus teaches that prayer is more than a sweet time of intimacy with God – as important as that is. But prayer is a means for accomplishing the work of God. The answers do matter.

Last night I prayed with my daughter that she would be relieved of her cold symptoms. This morning she is feeling good. Thank you, Lord. I’m willing to start small, so that God can build my faith. Maybe some day I will see daily answers to prayer. When we are so in touch with God and his work, he can use us to change the world.