What does prayer have to do with "perfect moments"? Read on as my good friend, Debbie Johnson, suggests a fresh perspective.
By Debbie Johnson
Right now, I'm curled up with my laptop on my son and daughter-in-law's couch. Four feet away, my little grandson snoozes peacefully in his cute little bassinet. Vegetable curry is simmering on the stove. The sun's coming out after a cold snap here in these North Carolina hills. Even the dog is sleeping at my feet! It's a real Norman Rockwell moment. You might say everything's going fine in my life.
The back story is that my darling grandson was born ten weeks prematurely. We're not sure what his future holds. And even if all turns out fine for us, life may or may not turn out fine for you ... or vice versa. If you were to look in the background of any of our "perfect" moments, you might see a hefty unexpected bill lying on the kitchen counter, or a relative with cancer, or relational discord. Or that cable TV news source you hate blaring from the next room!
What in the world are we supposed to do about our less-than-perfect lives?
Well, hmm. We can be grateful for the great moments. We can look for the lessons in the not-so-great ones.
Jesus had a less-than-perfect life. Things irritated him-a fig tree here, a moneychanger there. Agony awaited him and he knew it. He had to slip away and pray a lot. Get God's perspective.
So maybe there's our answer to the question above. We need to slip away and pray a lot.
I think gaining God's perspective is one of the key reasons to pray.
But backing up a bit, what is prayer anyway? Let's first think about what it's not. It's not a wish, nice thought, or positive vibe.
It is a private conversation with God. It gets results. It has components, like forgiveness, and asking for help. It has to be preceded by belief in God or at least by the possibility that God is real.
We see an example of this kind of prayer, of asking for help from God, in Mark 9:22-24):
A dad brought his son to be healed by Jesus and said, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." "'If you can'?" asked Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
I love that verse. I've used it a lot in my own prayers. If we're really honest, believing in God, praying to God, living like God is real and not just a myth ... those things are pretty bizarre to people who don't believe. And sometimes, if we're really really honest, we may have moments of doubt ourselves. "I do believe, but help me in my unbelief."
Prayer is a pretty bizarre thing. People around Jesus could see him and even touch him. We can't. We can choose to pray and believe, by faith. Then we can watch God work.
I'm choosing to pray for my grandson and his parents. I'm choosing to believe that God will work. And I'm trying to gain God's perspective as I pray.
What are you praying for and choosing to believe in your life?
Debbie Johnson is the author of The Journey: A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament, a devotional to accompany one's "trek" through the New Testament. It has a backpacking theme and each entry concludes with an "item in the backpack" (such as expectation or compassion or prayer) which captures the essence of the passage. The nuggets she finds within each passage of God's Word are poignant, refreshing, and transformative. www.debbieljohnson.com