IN A SENSE, stories of answered prayer are thrilling, encouraging, and hopeful. Yet often I let out a sigh of despair when I hear a miraculous story or read a study about answered prayer. Even if God dashes off a miracle now and then, most of the time, if we are really honest, prayer just doesn’t work at all. Haven’t you pleaded with God for the recovery of a loved one, only to have those prayers seem to fall harmlessly to the floor? Who believes that God answers only the super holy, or those who pray more minutes, or in greater numbers, or with more fervor, or utilizing the proper formulas? If prayer works, it doesn’t seem to work very efficiently, or frequently.
Perhaps we need to reexamine this whole business of praying for this or that. Prayer’s value for Jesus did not rise or fall depending on whether it “worked” or not. He prayed in Gethsemane to avoid death! For Jesus, prayer was about love, not consequences. His relationship with God, whom he called “Abba,” an unusually affectionate word, was so passionate that the two of them had to be together regularly.
Prayer is actually an end in itself because it is communion with God. That same God is full of compassion, gravely concerned about the troubles of the world. Prayer called us into communion, not only with God, but with all God loves. Therefore, prayer, practiced even amateurishly, catapults us out into the streets to be in service.
– James C. Howell
Yours Are the Hands of Christ
From pages 28-29 of Yours Are the Hands of Christ: The Practice of Faith by James C. Howell. Copyright © 1998 by James C. Howell. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
How have your prayers prompted you to action? Share your thoughts.
He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
Mark 8:29, NRSV
This Week: pray for people with chronic illnesses. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.
Did You Know?
In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.
This week we remember: John Chrysostom (September 13).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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