God Can Transform Us Through Prayer

Posted by: Pastor Clint Reiff 3 years, 9 months ago

God has allowed me to pray in some unusual places and with some wonderfully interesting and lovely people, but I don’t know that I had ever seen mouths drop open in shock during a time of prayer until I told someone that I could not pray for their request. We were trying to share Christ and our prayer needs with each other, so I know that I seemed to be out of line.

The woman who just asked us to pray was without a doubt the most shocked of all. She had just shared her daughter’s plan to move in with a boyfriend that week, and asked us to pray that God wouldn’t allow it.

I try to be very open to people’s prayer requests as I would hope that they would with my requests. But this at this moment God was trying to teach me something about my prayer life and an inappropriate tolerance for prayer requests that I think God will clearly not answer.

Once everyone gathered their composure, I explained that I certainly understood why she wanted God to stop her daughter from moving in with her boyfriend. I let everyone know that if they believed that was what God would want that they were free to pray for it but that I could not. Understand that this is an issue that is very close to my heart. But I was wondering if asking God to override someone’s ability to make a moral choice wasn’t like witchcraft or voodoo.

I was pretty sure that everyone wanted me to at least be quiet or better yet leave. But I explained that it seemed better to pray that God would reveal Himself to her daughter. That He would let her see clearly the choice that she was making and how goes against God who loves her. And that her mother would show the love of God to her no matter what decision her daughter made and that she would trust God in this and all situations and that God is always in charge of the situation, will use all situations and gives his love and grace abundantly.

Praise God that she was not only not offended by my response but said that is what she really needed.

We gathered around her and prayed for her and her daughter and not the situation. What could have been a sympathetic but shallow exercise in prayer became a great discovery of how God works in difficult situations and in difficult people. Most prayer requests fit what we think is best, without trying to discern what God is actually doing. I am no expert on prayer, but I have certainly grown in my prayer life and want to share a few things that I have learned as we begin a new year full of prayers yet unspoken and answers to be received. I understand that these may not be your issues, but they were mine.

  • God’s purposes frequently include hardship and risk. Should we ask Him to trump His purposes for our convenience?
  • Our requests need to reflect things we truly expect God to do, not just our thoughtless hopes and whims. I don’t want my requests to trivialize the awesome gift of prayer.
  • It seems so wrong to ask God to make other people act according to our will. He doesn’t always force people to act according to His will. Why should we pray that they act according to ours?
  • Not all of our prayer requests are directed toward God. We pray with lessons, info, or directives aimed at those in the prayer group. For example prayers that explain passages. If the prayer is directed to God, be reminded He wrote the passage. He knows what it means. Prayers about disciplining children sometimes are simply spoken to be heard by the parent in the group whose kids you think are too noisy.
  • God does not keep a tally of how many are praying for your concern. He is not impressed by number. He is happy with one or two. You need those people to whom you have given the right to know your heart and pray for the deepest needs regardless of the circumstance.

-- Pastor Clint

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