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 your Jane (or John) daily, and watch what happens. But don’t be surprised if your Jane doesn’t change at all. The heart that softens could be your own.