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PRAY: Love Connection

“We can do no great things—only small things with great love.”—Mother Teresa God drew me to himself through authentic prayer. I don’t mean that others prayed for me, although I’m sure they did. I don’t mean I prayed for myself, because I didn’t know how. Instead, God showed me that real prayer flowed from a real relationship. Up until then, my prayer life consisted of 911 calls: “Lord, help me pass this test” or “God, help Grandma feel better right away.” But the more I encountered real prayers that expressed genuine faith, the more I realized my need for Christ. As I grew in the Lord, my prayer life enlarged and expanded. In fact, my first major writing opportunity came through a prayer project. Since then, God’s allowed me not only to pray but to speak and teach about prayer. A few years ago, I began to pray a simple request almost every day, “Lord, teach me to pray.” Who knew he would use pain as a teacher? The pain came because someone didn’t like me. Someone really didn’t like me. That realization came as a shock because I barely knew this person (we’ll call her Jane). Not like me? How could it be? Nonetheless, the situation existed and, because of the circumstances involved, I could do nothing to change it. Nothing, that is, except pray. And that’s what I did. I typed out a list of specific Scriptures to pray for Jane and added more as time passed. My first prayers were selfish. I prayed for her attitude to change and for truth to prevail. But as time passed, I began to pray in new ways. I prayed that she would know the surpassing love of Christ. I prayed that Jesus would increase and abound in her life. I prayed that God would keep her in his name. I prayed that her marriage would be strong, that her children would rise up and call her blessed. I prayed, but I didn’t see God’s change Jane—at least not right away. What I witnessed instead were the ways he worked in mine. I found myself praying for her more and more. I began to see how precious she was to other people and to God. She mattered to him, so she mattered to me, too. Praying for Jane became a joy, not an obligation—a delight, not a duty. One day, I whispered a prayer of thanks as I realized that my wise Father had used this broken relationship to teach me to pray. What he whispered back shocked me: I wasn’t teaching you to pray. I was teaching you to love. Who’s the problem person in your life? Pray for...

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