I cringe every time I read the tag line of Kelly Minter’s bible study on Nehemiah: It took a heart that could break to repair a wall that was broken.
I mean, seriously. What were we thinking? Hasn’t 2012 been frustrating enough without adding a broken heart to the mix?
And so – in week one – I find my feathers already ruffled as we touched on the “power of prayer” by studying Nehemiah’s prayer life.
In response to hearing some troubling news about his kinsmen in Jerusalem, Nehemiah cried out to God “day and night” for four months asking God to do something.
I confess that I let out a sarcastic laugh when asked how his praying for this period of time encouraged me to keep praying for something I’ve prayed about for a long time.
A really sarcastic laugh.
Because honestly, it doesn’t encourage me.
In fact, it kind of frustrates me.
I mean, four months is a drop in the bucket compared to the length of time some of us have been praying for…
….a broken marriage
…a prodigal son.
Decades fly by as desperate prayers go seemingly unnoticed and untouched. And the term “power of prayer” gets tossed around half-hazardly. And I’m wondering:
…do we really know what that means?
…do we really believe it?
…have we seen it?
The enigma of prayer will always elude me this side of Eden. On my darker days, I allow the tough questions to linger in my His presence:
Is it Your will?
Do You hear me?
Why do You delay?
How much longer?
Am I doing something wrong?
Am I praying for the wrong thing?
Do I not have enough faith?
Do I need more people to pray?
Nevertheless, I have shining and precious moments of clarity as I understand what C.S. Lewis meant by the words, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
What about you. Have you seen the power of prayer?
Matt Chandler’s sermon podcast called “A Call to Prayer.” Heard it less than 48 hours after our discussion about this. Good times, good times.
I have seen him answer prayers, sometimes quickly, sometimes very slowly, and about some things I prayed, but nothing really changed. Until the situation just ended as in a death or divorce, etc.
I have to be honest, in the situations that I have spent many years or days praying for and when I didn’t see anything change, I wondered if I had done something wrong, but I don’t think our prayers are answered based on doing something right. As long as we are not in sin, He hears our prayers. A prayer of repentance first is always good. For the things I was praying about, perhaps the people were more hardened than I realized. Perhaps it just wasn’t part of His plan or will.
The conclusion always goes to He is good, even though I don’t understand His ways.