So I wanted to come back to the theme of ‘alone time’ with God after the blog about camp and I thought for a while about what exactly I wanted to say, but kept coming back to the same thing, prayer. At first I thought it perhaps wasn’t worth writing a post about something so obviously part of a Christian life, but then I reflected on my own prayer life and realized how easy it is for prayer to sit on the fringes of our daily lives, only making an appearance in times of real need or even want. Something so obvious, I guess it can sometimes be overlooked, so I figured I would write a little about prayer.
The first thing to say is that God answers prayers. I remember as a kid, growing up, I was never convinced that God would actually answer things that I asked of Him, so I was always a little scared to actually ask. I can vividly remember going to bed every night, closing my eyes and putting my hands together, but not once did I ask God to help me with something I was struggling with or help someone I knew was in need. I think I figured that if I never asked for anything, then God couldn’t let me down and then I wouldn’t have to question my belief in Him. I doubted a lot as a kid, up until I was about 14, but that’s something I’ll talk about in the next blog post. So anyway, I certainly wasn’t convinced that God really would answer my prayers and that’s something that probably carried on into my early teens. Now I feel I must add some clarification here; it wasn’t that I didn’t trust God or doubted His ability, I simply doubted that what I would ask for was worth asking for and therefore wouldn’t be answered. Thankfully this was something that I learnt not to be true as I grew older, but if I still had any doubts at all, they were taken away with my acceptance into Oxford.
A story to be told on its own, I won’t go into the full details, but I will say that up to that point I had still never really asked God to give me anything. I had prayed for the health of relatives who had recovered from illness, I had prayed for situations to be resolved, but never really for Him to give me something, something I knew I couldn’t manage on my own. As you will know that prayer was answered, but in such a phenomenal way that I could be left in no doubt that God’s hand had been over the entire process from application to results day and it all hit me after a solid hour of asking God for this opportunity and a morning containing 3 A’s and an acceptance email! When we take to time to prayerfully consider our aspirations in life God sets his plans and our plans in sync. God answered my prayer because he had laid on my heart 9 months before that I needed to be in Oxford and He answered my prayer because it was worth answering, because I wasn’t asking for my will, I was asking for His! It all comes down to consistently spending time with God, allowing Him to guide your path and asking Him to do so! I’m not far enough into my theology degree to fully understand it all yet, but maybe a big part of prayer is God molding our heats towards His will. When we ask for things that God grants, maybe that’s God’s way of pushing us in the right direction, not us pushing Him.
But don’t just take my word for it! At Elim festival there were so many amazing stories of the power of prayer leading to healing and changed circumstances and actually to many of us realizing how God always knows what He’s doing!
The second thing I wanted to mention was something that I struggled with myself for quite a while and that’s praying for other people. Every time I tried it just felt like there were far to many people and far to many things to pray about and I had no idea where to start, so I just didn’t bother. I realized later that, that wasn’t the correct response when faced with this difficulty! Instead we should really try to spend as much time as possibly praying for others as its part of our role within a Christian community, to protect one another and cover each other in prayer. Not only this, but the joy of seeing that prayer answered and peoples lives made better is something that simply can’t be matched. As humans we are wired to enjoy giving more than receiving… the same principle should be applied to our prayer lives.