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Prayer Works?

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Before I continue, I would like to state that I do believe that prayer is important.  I also fear I will be unable to communicate clearly my thoughts in this post. But, nonetheless, I shall try.

For a little over a month I have been ruminating {Steven’s term} on the phrase “prayer works.” It caught my ear while I was listening to the radio and someone called in to extol the power of prayer.  For some reason, it bothered me.

I believe the phrase is, indeed, meant as a praise to the power of God.  However, what does it mean when a friend prays for healing but dies? Or a couple prays for a child but never has one? Or a young person prays for the job but doesn’t get it? Is prayer “working” in these instances? I’m not sure it’s fair or appropriate to simply say, well, those just weren’t meant to be.

During my rumination, my thoughts have continuously been drawn to David’s first child with Bathsheba.  We are told in 2 Samuel 12 that the son will die.  And when he becomes ill after birth, David pleads with God for the child, fasting and lying on the ground.  But the child dies.  David’s servants fear to tell him this news, but when he finds out, he gets up, washes, eats, worships the Lord, and continues with his life. . .not without grief.  He tells his household that while the child lived, there was still hope that God might be gracious.

Was this prayer working?

I remember when we found out that Little’s heartbeat was too slow and the size too small, that I prayed.  I prayed to God that I wanted that child. But I also prayed that I wanted God more.

Prayer does work.  But I believe we have to be careful how we use the phrase and in what way we evaluate working.  Prayer is not a magic potion. I think, in my limited way, that for both me and David, prayer is surrendered worship. It’s a conduit to a stronger relationship with the Father.

In the last year, I have become especially sensitive to the phrases we use in our Christianity and faith and what message they convey. Perhaps this is why I have spent so much time mulling over this particular one. I’m still not sure that I can properly vocalize what it is about “prayer works” that bothers me.  I think because it inadvertently separates believers. Praying believers begin to question if their prayers are wrong because they don’t receive the blessing or healing or understanding for which they are pleading.

But humble prayer is not wrong. Talk with God. Share with Him your hopes and dreams and fears and failures. Perhaps that is how prayer works.  By sharing these things we are able to feel more at peace and more confident as we journey WITH Him on Earth.

One of my grandmother’s favorite hymns was In the Garden. Have a listen and hear the sweetness and power of prayer.

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Sing, sing a song

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I used to sing my math problems. My sister hated watching The Wizard of Oz with me because I sang the whole thing. Long car rides? Yep, I sang. Singing makes me happy. I took that song from Sesame Street seriously–sing out loud, sing out strong.

I tell you all this because it’s my God love language. Isn’t it interesting that I can say “love language” and most people know what I’m talking about. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, was insightful in my opinion and now Dr. Chapman has successfully coined a phrase that I find applicable not just to your significant other relationship, but to all your relationships. And what relationship is more important than that with God?

[Want your own copy of The 5 Love LanguagesHere’s one place to find it]

Music so often tells the story my heart wants to express but mere words just can’t do it justice. I can’t explain how adding music–rhythm, melody–to the story can lift my heart and soul or bring me to my knees. I can sing a song one week that has me clapping and the next week has tears coursing down my cheeks.

This is a song that over the last year has been integral in my conversations with God. I think as I cried to God about my weariness through this song, He also reassured me that there was an end to it. Tenth Avenue North used words that I couldn’t coherently piece together. In the midst of my struggles, this song comforted me because it helped me know I wasn’t alone–that rest was available. Now that the particular struggle is over the song brings me joy because it did end, a new song did rise, a heart did mend.

Music– singing– is my prayer, my thanksgiving, my petition, my worship.

So, I sing–I sing out loud, I sing out strong, and sometimes it’s just La, la, lala, la, la,la, la, lala, la.

But God gets it.