Note: Over the 21 Days of Fasting, we got different members of our church family to blog about why prayer is important to them. This post is from Mark Kemp!
Recently I went through the process of selling my motorcycle. I posted a “For Sale” advertisement on the internet then patiently waited for a buyer to appear. I wasn’t in a hurry, I enjoyed riding it, it was just another expense that I didn’t need. After 2 months of waiting and no serious enquiries I started to pray, “Please God, help me sell my bike”. Nothing. After anther couple of months passed someone came and looked at the bike. “Thank you God!” He offered me well under the asking price, but by now I was happy to just have an offer so I agreed. The catch was the buyer needed to get a loan for the money, so I waited and prayed, “Lord, let this sale go through”. It didn’t, he couldn’t get the loan. Another month of waiting… Another guy came to look at the bike, it was just the model he wanted and at a price that suited him, SOLD!
Often I pray to God when I need a situation changed that I have no control over. Sometimes it’s minor, like trying to find a buyer for my motorcycle. Sometimes it’s major, like healing for a dying family member. I want God to intervene in my life in a supernatural way.
God is no genie though, His responses to my prayers are very rarely exactly what I pray for and almost never in my time frame. God is our heavenly Father though, and he gives us who ask Him good gifts (Matt 7:9-11). He also knows what we need (Matt 6:31-32).
Often we can see God at work through hindsight. In the example of the motorcycle, I can clearly see in hindsight that through not answering my earlier prayers he provided a better sell price to someone who would truly enjoy the bike, not to mention that I got to enjoy riding it for a few more months.
God's response to my prayers are not always that obvious though. Sometimes my prayer becomes “Help me understand why this is happening”. This prayer never comes when I think about trivial things, only when something is happening that deeply affects me or those I care about. It is at these times that God has done His biggest work in me. Firstly, he works on my heart to give me peace (Phil 4:7). The peace I have received from God in times of trouble truly is a peace that surpasses all understanding. Out of that peace, God shows me that His ways are higher than my ways (Isa 55:8-9). As I pray, God helps me to trust Him when nothing else seems to make sense. God helps me to know that he sees so much more than what we see and that there is so much more to our eternal lives than the short time we have on this earth. It is through prayer that during my hardest times God loves me, supports me and strengthens me.
The Bible encourages us to ask God for anything we need. Also to praise Him for our provision. While this is certainly valuable, the greatest gift I have received from prayer is God's hand on my heart. It is through prayer that God helps me to draw closer to Him, to trust Him and to better understand His divine will.