PRAY: All Authority
It happened only yesterday. I prayed—and I saw God answer. I asked him to reveal himself in a particular situation. He turned a time of chaos into instant peace. He took frustration and transformed it to hope. And his grace flowed over the entire situation.
We don’t always see such immediate answers to our prayers. So why do we pray? I’ve thought about that a lot. I believe we pray as an expression of our relationship with God. In fact, one of the things I love to teach is that prayer is more relationship than activity. Our Western culture has turned it into something we do, a box to check off on our list of daily tasks. But God (who is so much bigger than culture) intends prayer to be a lifestyle, a living expression of our lives as connected to His. That’s why he gave us Scriptures that speak of praying “always” or “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:18). Yes, Jesus modeled the importance of coming apart for specific times of prayer, but he also lived in continual conversation with his Father.
If all this is true, why don’t we pray? We don’t pray first because we don’t have a relationship with God. After all, why talk to someone you don’t know? Before I understand that God wanted first place in my life, I prayed—sometimes. My infrequent petitions were what I call 911 prayers that begged God to help me pass a test or act in a particular situation. When I didn’t experience a specific or urgent need, I saw no need to communicate. Our culture teaches us not to talk to strangers—and we’re good at following rules (sometimes).
But there’s another reason we don’t pray. We may have a relationship with God. We may know and understand that Jesus paid the penalty we deserved. We may know we will see him in heaven one day. But do we really believe he can make a difference on earth?
My writing partner shared some stories with me this week. He’s had some encounters in which God has worked in dramatic ways. One day, we hope to share them in book form. He’s seen God do amazing things because he begins each of his prayers at the place of faith. As a young believer, he knew nothing better than to believe that God would take care of him. When he had a houseful to feed and an empty pantry, he asked God to move. He poured out his heart in prayer. And as he rose from that moment of desperation, he found that God provided the food he needed in an incredible way.
That’s only one story (it’ll read much better when I can give the details). As I’ve considered this and others this week, I’ve realized that my friend has seen God work because he completely believes something else that he teaches—that “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).
All authority. If Jesus has all authority, then he’s in charge. He’s in charge of the big things like life and death and the little things like providing food for the table (not such a little thing after all) or peace from chaos.
As I told another friend this week, either I believe God’s in charge or I don’t. Since I do, I choose to believe he has all authority. I choose to believe I can trust him with the big picture as well as the small details. I’ll keep talking to him about my needs and thanking him for what he provides. Because my faith is small, I’ll ask him to make it grow. And I’ll also ask him to help me pay attention to the amazing things he does.
I’d hate to miss his answers to my prayers. And I know those answers are on their way—because he has all authority.