By Karl Terry
I believe that at some point in our lives nearly every human is moved to prayer.
For some that point of prayer may not come until danger, fear and uncertainty are real and all around. For others it’s an act done by appointment, performed at church, performed before a meal or before going to bed. Maybe it’s even an annual appointment like the National Day of Prayer.
This past week we held a National Day of Prayer observance near the steps of my county courthouse. I attended and was uplifted by the opportunity to pray with a cross-section of people from the community. But I’ve got to say that while corporate prayer probably has its place and should be performed, the silent prayers of an earnest individual are maybe even stronger.
I’ve always taken a lot of strength from Bible verses like Matthew 6:5-7, which warns against hypocrisy and praying to be seen by men. It tells us that it’s better to go in our room and lock the door to pray. Our prayers, whether public or private, should be aimed toward our Father. I believe those in our small group at the courthouse this week had that focus even though we were intentionally in a public place.
Since 9/11 our nation has practiced corporate prayer more frequently and in lots of different settings, but those corporate prayers since that time probably pale in comparison to the number of silent prayers that went up in the minutes after the second plane hit the towers.
I’ve literally hit my knees immediately in prayer only a handful of times in my life and that instant was one of them. I guess I could feel guilty about only reacting that strongly when it seemed my back was against the wall. But in one of the most poignant descriptions of prayer in the Bible, Jesus prayed fervently in the garden of Gethsemane to avoid his death on the cross. In the end Jesus prayed “Father not my will but your will be done.”
Those words are probably the most important for Christians to embrace. Talk to God, give him thanks and praise, tell him your troubles and your perceived needs then turn them all over to him.
To me it’s the hardest thing to do, release control to God, understanding that his power is greater than mine. My mind wants to believe that if I study a problem hard enough or worry about it instead of sleeping, the answers will emerge. Instead they only emerge once I’m still and yield to his power.
I think God wants to hear from us much like a good father wants to spend time with his children. Good fathers don’t give their children every little thing they want but a good father does protect and provide for his children.
If we believe our Father will protect and provide for us as his children we ought to be eager to spend time with him, whether it’s in a group on the courthouse steps or alone in our darkest closet.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org