CHANGING MY PRAYERS
Written June 2018
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
During the year our nation has suffered many tragedies. School shootings alone have shaken us to the core as these senseless killings have robbed this world of such precious children.
In the midst of these senseless tragedies the question is on everyone’s mind from the US capital to the pulpits of America is “What can we do to keep these horrible acts from happening?” Regardless of where you stand politically or your opinion on gun control lies none of us want more senseless violence to occur in the hallways of our schools or on the streets of our towns.
So what do we do? The reflexive response of Christians across America is to pray. Whenever I look on Facebook and read comments about a tragic event happening either hear in the US or abroad I always see comments and posts about prayer.
Now, let me be clear, prayer is good. As Christians we should be people of prayer. It should be one of the defining characteristics of our lives. We should react to the events of our lives with prayer and be continually in a mindset of prayer.
With that in mind I began contemplating the question aforementioned. “What can we do to keep these horrible acts from happening?” What can I do to change the world in which I live in for the better? I’m not a politician that can propose a law, nor do I possess vast material resources that could be used to change this world in some significant way. What I do have is a direct connection to Almighty God that I can not only ask to bring change into this world but I can ask God to use me to work through me to bring change into this world. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
You see, in thinking about this grand problem of changing the world for the better I saw a flaw that I myself was making and a mistake that we are all prone to make. So often I would pray that God would bring comfort to those that are mourning the terrible loss of a loved one but I would forget to ask God to allow me the chance to comfort someone that is mourning.
Here’s what I think we forget sometimes. That of the many amazing and powerful forces at God’s disposal the ones He has chosen to use to change this world are His people. We are the ones that God wants to use to make this world a better place. More so God has commanded us to go our into this world as salt and light to do good works, proclaim the gospel, and live lives that show the love of Christ in a real and practical way.
This thought is what changed my prayers so much. I realized that prayer is not simply petition but preparation. There are so many things which are completely out of my control. I cannot cure cancer, save souls, protect missionaries on the field 10,000 miles away from home, or hold peace talks for warring nations. Those are things that in my power I cannot hope to accomplish.
For these I petition God to move and work as only He can through the hearts of those involved and through supernatural means. This is where, many times my prayers would end but realizing that prayer is not just a time of petition but a time of preparation pushed me to pray on.
Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
The missing element in my prayer was that God would use me. Not use others but rather use me to help in any way I can. Let me see those that are hurting and those that are in need that I might be used by God to make their world better. How many people do we come in contact with on any given day that we can lift up from the darkness that surrounds them.
I’m reminded of our candlelight communion service each year where we all light candles and we see the light grow and grow in the sanctuary. It is not the brightness of one single candle that dispels the darkness but rather all the little candles together that pushes back the blackness.
Each one of us is a light sent out into this world to eliminate the darkness in the lives and hearts of others. We do this by loving, caring, and entering into the lives of those that are hurting, afraid, and downcast.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
I know a gentlemen in Burlington who built homes for a living. He told me he hired a teenager to help roof houses. After hiring him he came to work and was a big disappointment to him. The way this teenager worked and dressed and all around what he did was just a big let down. Well, the man I know was about ready to fire him. He gave him the reasons but this teenager asked for one last chance. He promised a huge change come Monday morning. Well, compassion won out and the second chance was given but interestingly that was the last time my friend saw this particular guy. He had a lot of other jobs going on at the time and he had other people working for him so he didn’t think to much of it at the time. Years passed by and one day a Cadillac came pulling up to the work site and a gentleman in carpenter’s pants came out. It was the same teenager who almost got fired but was given a second chance. He had come to thank my friend for giving that second chance. He had worked hard, learned his trade, and now was very successful, all because someone gave him the chance he needed and gave a little guidance.
I wonder what type of impact we could make in this world if, when we were presented with a chance to show compassion or love, we extended our hands and embraced the person God had brought into our lives.
How many young men and women could avoid divorce, or suicide, or crimes if they were loved by us and counseled, and cared for in real and personal ways. How many would say you are the first real friend I have ever had? How many would say God brought you into my life?
What if every Christian in our world prayed “God use me to help one person today” instead of asking God to do all the work and fail to prepare to participate? What if we all prayed in earnest sincerity “Lord, let me be an instrument of change in the life of someone that is struggling mentally, financially, emotionally, or is some way in their life.” What if our passion in our prayer life was to get our hands dirty in the ministry and not miss any opportunity God had for us. What if we prayed “God I want to help someone turn away from the darkness that seems to be consuming this land.”
How bright would the world be overnight? Better yet how much better would the world be as a whole, if we would be the hands of Christ in this world showing love and compassion?
There is a great song that speaks to this whole topic of changing the world in which we live in and be someone who steps up and touches the lives of others. It is by Matthew West and it is entitled “Do Something.” I’ve put the lyrics down below because it puts the call that each of us has to be an instrument of change in this world so well.
“Do Something” by Matthew West
I woke up this morning Saw a world full of trouble now, thought How’d we ever get so far down, and How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?” Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of People living in poverty Children sold into slavery The thought disgusted me So, I shook my fist at Heaven Said, “God, why don’t You do something?” He said, “I did, yeah, I created you”
If not us, then who If not me and you Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yeah If not now, then when Will we see an end To all this pain Oh, it’s not enough to do nothing It’s time for us to do something
I’m so tired of talking about How we are God’s hands and feet But it’s easier to say than to be Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves It’s alright, “somebody else will do something” Well, I don’t know about you But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and I wanna be the one who stands up and says “I’m gonna do something”
We are the salt of the earth We are a city on a hill We’re never gonna change the world By standing still No, we won’t stand still Lord Jesus, please do not let me miss out on the chance to minister in your Name to the hurting, downtrodden, and in need. There are so many things in this world that I can do nothing about. There are conflicts and problems which require a movement from You and I trust that You in Your timing will work everything to Your glory. But God I know there is work you want me to do. You have made me salt and light in this world and I want to help the hurting and make a difference in this world. Show me the ones in need that I can reach out in love and help. Give me eyes to see and wisdom to know what I can do love them. Help me beat back any prejudice or reluctance I might have in reaching out. Allow me to see others with Christ’s eyes and have feet that would move with compassion and love that I might be an instrument in Your hands for Your glory and honor. Amen.