Do you feel that prayer is enough?
Most of us ‘know’ that it is. But sometimes, it’s a struggle to believe it. In my books, my main characters pray all the time. Silently and publicly, depending on who they are, who they’re with, and where they’re at. But, all of them struggle with prayer at some point.
Years ago, my daughter’s young friends would come to visit, and I was honored that they’d sit and chat with me. With eight children, we were “home base” to many of their friends. It was easier for them to come here than for ours to borrow a car or get a ride somewhere. Most visitors were Christian young people, some not, but the bond was close when our faith connected. After a lengthy conversation, one young lady asked, “How can I be praying for you, Mrs. Robison?” I was a little taken aback. Although, I often prayed for those who asked or didn’t. I never thought to ask myself. If there was a situation or circumstance. I’d pray quietly right there. But to randomly ask that question?
I don’t know why my daughter’s friend’s words impacted me, but they did.
I have years of prayer journals and lists. I believe in the power of prayer. I profess it. I encourage it. Last week, an old friend and I went to visit a mutual friend. She had suffered a stroke two years ago and is bedridden, paralyzed on the left side of her body. This friend was the young kids Sunday School teacher for my two oldest children, 35+ years ago! She prayed then, and she prays even more now—all day and all night. We talked and laughed, and she cried.
She said she often felt worthless and wondered why God kept her here. She shared how she used to write cards and letters to encourage friends and family. But she’s left-handed and paralyzed on that side. She’s also practically blind in one eye. “I can’t even do that anymore.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. She felt she was a huge burden on her husband and adult children.
My heart rent, and I said, “But you pray. You are doing the most powerful thing any Christian can do. Pray. You are faithful and diligent, and that’s the best, the greatest gift we can offer to those who ask or don’t.” You see, no amount of material things, or cards or good deeds, can take the place of prayer. I’m not sure of the impact it had on her, but it’s had me thinking for days. If I were her, and all I could do was pray, would it be enough? Would it be enough for me?
I often recall all the miracles God has performed in my family members’ lives.
I call these my pillars. Illness, financial matters, housing, work, the list goes on. God not only got us through, but he also blessed our socks off, and we have a lot of socks in our large brood! But it wasn’t just my prayers. It was the prayers of people who asked and didn’t ask. Some I found out about years later, some I’m sure I’ll never know till I get to heaven!
One of the first believers I ever met prayed for us. I wasn’t one at the time. Ten years later, I ran into her. Our son and her grandson were on the same Little League Team. My husband was the coach. We talked, and I told her all about our family, our church, our faith. Her eyes welled, and tears fell. I was confused. She expressed that she never knew what happened to us, but she’d never stopped praying for my husband and me. She also didn’t know how far off the rails our marriage had been at one point. Whew! I’m so glad her prayers were enough.
When I go through my prayer list, I often email or message a person to see how they’re doing. Others, I’ve lost track of, so I keep on praying. Why do I do that? It’s as if God hasn’t given me the freedom to stop praying, and because it’s all I can do, so prayer must be enough, right?
Lately, though, I’ll admit, I struggle with the impossible requests.
Each week, I send out a prayer letter for our church, and I aim to encourage. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and it seems of late illnesses are escalating in our church, and it has nothing to do with the current pandemic. Or does it? Anyway, I tussle with trying to be encouraging. The ‘results’ are not what I want to report, especially in a world and time of seeming hopelessness. But God has always been faithful. He is true to His Word, and He is to be trusted, whether we see the results we want or not. We still have the hope of eternity! And like prayer, it is the greatest!
So, I can trust, and I can encourage in the sovereignty of His will and His way, but I must push away my doubts about why or why not and ‘just’ trust. Either way, the need for prayer has never diminished, especially when we don’t see immediate results. Do you feel like me? I pray, and I encourage others to pray, but I want to do more. I feel the need to do more. But prayer is enough because God is more than enough.
I was listening to a radio broadcast, and they were speaking about a new authorized biography, ‘Becoming Elisabeth Elliot.’
My favorite author! Of course, I ordered it immediately. Another book of hers somehow popped on my computer screen days later. A reprint of a book of hers from eighteen years ago, ‘Secure in the Everlasting Arms.’ I’d never read or heard of it, so I ordered it too. And this month, during remodeling our home and packing things up, I found a copy of “Discipline, the Glad Surrender” by Elisabeth Elliot! It belonged to my eldest son. I gave it to him when he left for college a gazillion years ago. I had written, “David, Surrender and read!” Love mom. I’d since bought many copies of that same book. I’ve sent a copy off to college with each of our subsequent seven children. I decided to ‘surrender and read’ it again. I wasn’t disappointed.
Elisabeth Elliot is a woman of strong, solid, no-nonsense faith.
Never judgmental or condescending, but her depth of life experience gives a God-centered perspective to any circumstance one could encounter, even today. Prayer, obedience, and trust could be her mantra! Because she lived life, filtering everything through the lens of scripture, her words are timeless, no matter our situation. Only the Bible has impacted my faith more than her words.
In the first chapter of ‘Discipline, The Glad Surrender,” she told a beautiful story (her own experiences are so rich) about enjoying God’s creatures in the wild. Sitting on a front porch in Texas, she watched silently as all sorts of species skittered, scampered, and scooted by. A lame javelin walked in and jumped towards a hanging birdfeeder. Without a sound, he limped back into the forest. Elisabeth said she wished she could comfort him. She said it was beyond her powers, but she had another recourse, and she prayed for him,
“Here is your pig, Lord. Please heal his foot.”
Never knowing if her prayers would be answered. She trusted. I’m reminded I need to continue to trust in the same way. I don’t know whether God will answer an impossible request or deny it. I have no more assurance that God will affirmatively answer my prayers for a friend any more than those I’ve interceded for on behalf of a stranger. But I know they’ll be answered, and I know prayer is the greatest thing I can do. And the outcome doesn’t depend on me.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “It is possible that she was brought to my window this morning (the javelina is normally a timid nocturnal creature) precisely in order to be prayed for.”
Keep praying, friends! It’s precisely the thing God wants us to do, and it’s more than enough because HE is!
“We pray this so that the name of the LORD may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our GOD and the LORD JESUS CHRIST.” 1 Thess 1:12