When I got to Day 8 which is entitled “Stronger in Prayer” I kinda rolled my eyes. Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I’m a poster-child for the value of prayer and know I could write a month’s worth of posts about it. In fact, I think it’s so important that we’re going to talk about prayer all this week. But how, I thought, could David Arthur break this important issue down to one day of study? I was not going to be disappointed.
David initially asks if we see our life as a train or a hot air balloon. A train that is bound by tracks moving in a linear direction or a balloon – soft in shape and form and easily able to change direction. Paula thinks she’s more like a train, I think I might be a little of both … but more balloon like. David likens trains to doing their own thing (because they’re rigid and can’t change unless the track is rerouted) and balloons as being led by the Spirit. I think we would all like that, wouldn’t we? So in tune with God that you turn at a moment’s notice this way or that depending on His guidance.
My favorite line on the whole day is when David says, “To grow strong as believers, we need to be guided, moved, and shaped by the wind of the Holy Spirit.” And how do we do that? Through prayer – by allowing us to speak to Him and through which He can speak to us – God can mold and shape us. Does that seem funny to you? Are you one who oft-times finds themselves praying and trying to shape and mold God with your petitions?
Now, I’m not one who will tell someone that they’re praying incorrectly … everyone should pray as they see fit because that’s a conversation between you and God. But once I was leading a small group and one of the members was asking the group to pray for her to find a home. When I prompted everyone to bow their heads, she asked me to wait because she hadn’t finished telling everyone how to pray. My curiosity was piqued and I listened as she gave everyone a little slip of paper to read while they prayed. I looked at the slip that she shoved into my hand and noticed that she’d taken parts of certain verses and had combined them into a sentence describing what she wanted. I surveyed the group – most looked like they were in a state of shock. She explained that finding this in the Bible meant that it was a promise for her to hold on to and she wanted us to remind God of His promise to her. I looked again at what she’d typed up – it read almost like some sort of incantation – an attempt to influence God to do what she wanted.
I feel quite comfortable saying, “This is not the way to pray.”
God is not a big vending machine in the sky whom you can instruct to do your bidding.
I suggested that we pray Ephesians 3:20 over her situation:
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us … (HCSB)
Praying this verse does two things: (1) It asks God to do more than we’re asking for in a certain situation; but (2) it is also dependent on the power that works in us – meaning – the Holy Spirit. If one prays this prayer and isn’t Spirit-filled, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to happen. After the group had left I spoke to the woman about her needs and prayed one-on-one with her as well. Sometimes, when we get desperate, we’ll do anything to get the results we want. It becomes problematic when the results we want are not in God’s will. Do I mean God didn’t want her to have a house? No way. God knows that shelter is a basic need of ours; but do we need our own home on an acre of land with trees and a river? No, and yet that was what she was asking for. We prayed that day that she would get a roof over her head, and that she did, within the week.
I’d like to tell you another story about how Ephesians 3:20 worked in my life, and the lives of about eight other ladies, but I’ll hold that until later.
Until Wednesday then … I pray you have a great week!