Our world isn’t always a hopeful place. Not only are there two major wars taking place, grief and loss aren’t very hard to find no matter where you look. My Bible tells me to be hopeful. However, sometimes these major events seem beyond hope.
These events in our world can leave us feeling powerless. We don’t know what to do to support loved ones let alone people suffering on the other side of the world.
However, God gave us a tool to use at all times, for all situations. Prayer.
Even when we have no hope, when we feel lost, powerless, or out of control. We have prayer.
The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God”. Prayer is our primary way, as Christians, to communicate our emotions and desires to God. It can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal.
There are many famous prayers in the Old Testament of the Bible. In 1 Chronicle 4 we see Jabez pray for strength and protection, in 2 Kings 19 Hezekiah prays for courage and deliverance, in 1 Samuel 2 Hannah displays her prayer of adoration and praise whilst desperately longing for a child and in Daniel 9 we see Daniel pray for the forgiveness of his people.
These Old Testament prayers, and the many more that fill its pages are written with great beauty and formality. They are written for a God they have heard about, a God from the stories of their ancestors, not a God they know personally.
When we shift into the New Testament, our greatest model of prayer comes from Jesus. Not only do we read about Jesus retreating to solitude to spend time with God, we see Jesus use prayer to heal, comfort and raise people from the dead. Even in his final hours, when Jesus knew his fate, we see Jesus’ prayer in Mathew 26 filled with surrender and obedience to God.
After Jesus death on the cross, our relationship and accessibility to God changed dramatically. God is available to us; through a direct connection we have with him. He is not a distant God, not a God of our ancestors, or of the folklore, he is a God with a personal and intimate relationship with us all.
When we see our relationship with God this way, our style of prayer can change. While we can take inspiration from the prayers of the Old Testament, we must acknowledge that our relationship with God is different, and therefore our prayers can look different too.
There is a great reminder from Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
Paul encourages us to pray about everything. Later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing”. There is no way we could model the Old Testament Prayers 24/7. However, the call to pray without ceasing is a reminder to be in constant communication with God about everything. The reason, because God cares about our every need.
Prayer is our way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God, to thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy his presence and tell him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. When we pray according to God’s will, we will receive countless blessings.
When we look at the shape of our world, the only thing I can do is pray. I can’t enact a ceasefire, I can’t mend someone’s grieving heart, I can’t fix every need I face, but I can pray.
I can give all my concerns, my feelings of powerlessness and at times hopelessness to God.
He is bigger than it all.
He cares about the really big stuff and the really small stuff too.
There is no clogging up of the prayer line, no stealing blessing from others or taking God’s attention away from more important things. God cares about it all, has time for is all and is here for us all.
Mrs Sam Mannix / Chaplain