This one is going to be short, but I just have to share before I head off to Thailand with my sister from another mister, the biggest thing I’ve been realizing the power of the past few weeks.
The power of prayer. I know, I know…this isn’t the exciting topic you were hoping for, but hear me out. As you know, I am in Cambodia with IJM. IJM is a Christian based organization. This doesn’t mean we hand out bibles and evangelize (not that there isn’t a place for that). This means our mission, the reason we do what we do, the methods we use, the power we root our battles in, the trust we put our efforts in, is biblically based. As a result of that, as an organization we pray twice a day…every day. We have stillness in the morning, where we are encouraged to individually go to God to start the day. Then later in the day we all gather and share our prayer requests, praise reports and pray together. So obviously, in the past 5 months since I’ve been here I’ve been praying – a LOT. But I couldn’t shake the question of “is this doing anything?” I know I’ve seen prayer work in the past and I know when I really settle in and reach out I can feel God’s presence listening and responding, but does He really listen when we ask Him to do specific things?
I mean, I wasn’t a Christian most of my life. I didn’t really believe in anything most of my life. I sort of thought there was a God, but would only go so far as to say “I’m spiritual, not religious”…but really had no idea what that meant. Then one day, almost exactly 7 years ago as I sat in a church service (as a favor for someone close to me) I felt/learned/realized there absolutely, unequivocally is a God. It’s been a long journey since that day and it’s a journey I’m very much learning more about each day. So part of this journey is understanding this God that I believe in. How can I believe in something I don’t fully understand? I equate it to love. Not romantic love, but the kind you feel for your parents, your kids, your soul mate. The kind of love you can’t explain why, but you cannot deny its 100% unshakable existence. But I digress.
As I’m working to learn more about God and the bible, prayer is a big thing that pops up a lot. It’s how to hear from Him. It’s how to grow closer to Him b/c you build a relationship with Him (I mean when you love someone you spend time together one on one right?). So aside from the relationship building is there power there as well? YES! I’ve seen so much happen this past month that I can link directly to diligent prayer and trust in God. It doesn’t always happen the way I had expected, or the time I had wanted but I have to admit I’m not expert on what’s best for who and when. But what I’m seeing is the evolution of what answered prayers look like. They are not always a BOOM moment, but a slow shift. A changed heart of a person. The gradual release of forgiveness or hurt. The unnoticed freedom from previous addictions or bad habits. I’ve seen answered prayer in the changing of loved ones. I’ve seen it through miraculous break through in our rescue efforts here at work. I’ve seen how the prayers of others has worked in me without me even knowing. So yeah. Prayer works and it’s POWERFUL.
But what about when you pray, and what you prayed for doesn’t happen? I think it goes to a deeper understanding of John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” I think that part about “my words remain in you” is one I often forget. God isn’t Santa. As I learn His teachings, His ways, and trust Him by growing closer to Him this will start to be more clear. I don’t have the answers, but I do know it’s worth continuing to learn about. I will say, that I think God answers every prayer. The problem often is that it’s not what we expected or when we expected it. I heard it put best once that “God always answers, but it’s with a yes, no, or wait a while.” My trust that He knows best and my life and these moments are only part of something SO much bigger than me are what I can find peace in when the “no” or “wait a while” are my responses.
Hmmm, guess this wasn’t as short as I thought it be ha!