I’m being challenged by Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? I’ve found much of the book to be very insightful and quite profound which leads me to extend it to all as a recommendation. In it Yancey attempts to answer many of the questions that are commonly asked concerning prayer: Does prayer change God? Why do bad things happen to good people? What difference does prayer really make? Pretty heavy stuff.
I want to share a thought with you that I found to be especially profound. Here’s an excerpt:
“In prayer we stand before God to plead our condition as well as the conditions around us. In the process, the act of prayer emboldens me to join the work of transforming the world into a place where the Father’s will is indeed done as it is in heaven. We are Christ’s body on earth, after all; he has no hands but ours. And yet to act as Christ’s body we need an unbroken connection to the head. We pray in order to see the world with God’s eyes, and then to join the stream of power as it breaks loose.”
I have come to realize that we are the answer to many of the prayers that we pray. How often do I pray, hypothetically, “God, please provide for my friend who is struggling financially,” when I have just been given a pay raise? The truth is, we are God’s hands on earth and from the beginning He has chosen to accomplish His will through us as His chosen people. The election of the nation of Israel is a great example of what I am getting at. In the Old Testament there are countless stories of God using the nation of Israel (in its early stages), a group of sinful, fallen people, to carry out what many would call ethnic cleansing. Ultimately, the nation was established and Jesus, the Savior of the world, is born through her. God, being all-powerful and altogether sovereign, could have chosen to accomplish all of this without force or even further, the nation of Israel but the fact of the matter is that God has willed it that we be His instrument of grace. God chose to use a group of sinful people (hence the war, violence, and bloodshed) as a vessel of His grace back then and it is the same today. I understand that this example may require a discussion in and of itself but I believe that it illustrates what I am trying to say at least somewhat clearly.
I’m reminded of an interesting thought that is shared in Shane Claiborn’s Irresistible Revolution: We are so quick to turn to God and ask Him why people are starving in the world or why there is war and violence and oppression. Maybe God looks down on us and says in response, “You tell me. You are my hands. You are my feet. I have equipped you with my Holy Spirit so that you may take on such tasks with worlds of strength.”
God is transforming the way I view prayer. Perhaps instead of asking God to miraculously intervene (which I believe is a good thing to pray for in some circumstances), I should be asking Him how I could come along side Him in His Kingdom work and change the situation I am praying for myself by the power of His Spirit within me. Maybe I am the answer to some of my prayers and I just haven’t realized it yet.