Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer.
As Christians, prayer is typically (hopefully!) part of our lives in some way, whether it’s saying grace around the dinner table, or running through a list of our family and friends each night when we say our bedtime prayers. We might pray for the health of our loved ones, for that job promotion, for our child’s college scholarship. We pray for violence to cease, for poverty to be eradicated, for people to love more and hate less.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to pray for all of these things. I don’t believe there’s anything too small or too big, too trivial or too consequential for us to bring before our God.
My suggestion here isn’t that we pray for different things, but that maybe we should pray differently. Too often, we have a tendency to see prayer as a last resort rather than as our first priority! When someone we love is sick or in an accident, we start a GoFundMe page, organize meal trains to fill their freezer with food, send sympathy or get well cards in the mail. No, none of these are bad things. But often, only when we’ve exhausted all these other efforts do we say – sometimes even apologetically – “I wish I could do more. All I can do is pray for you.”
God never intended for us to use prayer as a last-ditch, final line of defense — He intended for it to be our first and greatest solution in all situations and circumstances. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to have an open channel of communication with the God of all creation. According to Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Scripture tells us clearly that prayer isn’t meant to be a wish list uttered timidly, or a request lined with doubt, but a way in which we can boldly approach God to receive His grace and His mercy. In Isaiah 65:24, God says that “before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.” This illuminates that God doesn’t need us to speak our prayers in order for Him to hear them; He already knows what they are! So we don’t pray to make our God aware of our needs. We pray to make our needs aware of our God.
On May 3, the nation will once again observe the National Day of Prayer. The theme for this year’s day is unity, based on Ephesians 4:3: “…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In 1952, when President Truman signed into law an act of Congress setting aside a day for Americans to join together in prayer from coast to coast, the proclamation declared, “in times of national crisis when we’re striving to strengthen the foundations of peace and security, we stand in special need of divine support.” This statement rings true in our country today as much as, if not more than, it did 66 years ago.
On this National Day of Prayer, would you join me as we challenge ourselves to more boldly, more passionately, and more faithfully approach the Throne of Grace? Let’s believe that God would heal brokenness in our homes, bridge divides in our communities, and unite our hearts in the Spirit of His love, as we humbly ask Him to do above and beyond all we could hope or imagine across our nation.