I’m guilty of this one and my guess is, you are too. Someone is facing tough times and you want to offer help… and you say… ‘Is there anything I can do besides prayer?’ I know what I meant when I’ve said it. What I really mean is… of course I will be praying, but is there anything else you would like me to do? Despite that intention, it really comes off sounding like prayer is the small thing and you are asking if there’s anything more important you can help with.
Like I said, I’m guilty of making this statement so I get it. I get the intention and feeling behind the statement. The ‘results’ of that prayer are not immediately known or felt so you want to be able to do something that is felt right away. Typically meeting a physical need. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to meet a physical need, but we must never belittle the power of prayer.
A great story to illustrate this comes from Mark 9. The story is about a man bringing his son to Jesus to heal. His disciples had been unable to help and when it’s all done, they question Jesus about this. “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”” (Mark 9:28:29)
The disciples had done exactly what we often do, tried to “do” something to help this man. Their actions of attempting to cast out this demon were completely based on their actions. In their effort to help by doing, they neglected to start with what matters most, praying.
Being honest with ourselves, how often do we do the very same thing? Recently I was in a defensive tactics course and we were doing a mock drill. The drill involved an attacker seeking to mug us. When it was all done and we were doing the debriefing, the instructor asked, “How many of you prayed during the drill?” Nobody had. When we were reduced to our fight or flight reactions, none of us thought to take even half a second to pray. Yet as Jesus pointed out in the story, something cannot possibly be solved without prayer.
Prayer needs to be our FIRST response to anything. Sometimes that prayer looks more traditional; an open bible, on your knees, hands folded and petitioning to God for guidance, wisdom, action, whatever. But it doesn’t always need to look like this. When Paul instructions us to pray without ceasing, there is no way he had this tradition view of prayer in mind. Sometimes prayer can simply be, “God, wisdom please”. It can even be thought pictures. You don’t need words to communicate with your Lord and Savior. Prayer can take many forms, but should never be neglected or moved to the back burner.
Remember, prayer should always be our first response, our first reaction and our first defense to any situation.
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