Prayer is as central to the life of faith as oxygen is to our physical life. Yet, prayer in many ways is a mystery. We sometimes pray fervently for things, believing these things to be in the will of God. Sometimes Gods answers surprise us. Sometimes we do not see results of our prayers for a long time and it seems confusing. When I was 12 years old, I was in an accident caused by a blown-out tire on our station wagon. Our car was in the far left lane going 70 miles per hour (the speed limit) on a crowded racing Southern California freeway. The blow out caused our car to start to veer right heading fast toward a car right next to us that could not get out of the way. I was in the back seat on the right side. I still remember the terrified look on the man’s face as our car windows got closer and closer. My sister, who was 28 at the time, was driving and she had the steering wheel jammed all the way toward the left, but the car continued to go, in the slow motion of my mind, in the opposite direction of the way it was turned. That moment is frozen in my mind, and that is sometimes where we find ourselves in prayer. We are praying fervently in one direction, but our lives are careening off in another – and time is suspended as we look and wonder – what is happening? After that terrifiying moment in the car, the station wagon all of a sudden obeyed the directon of the steering wheel and went slamming along the center divider and we tore out 400 feet of it – it was quite an ordeal. But we all left the car without a scratch, protected in some mysterious way by the mighty hand of God. Likewise God answers prayer in His way in His time and He can be trusted. It doesn’t mean the journey won’t be action packed…but we have to move beyond that moment when everything seems out of control and remember we live by faith.
I found a great quote on prayer by Gene Bourland from the book Hit By a Ton of Bricks by Dr. John Vawter. Bourland writes:
“I am discovering that prayer is not a magical lamp that I rub and get three wishes from God, but it is an intimate conversation – yelling out my dependence on Him. God is good and purposes good in our lives in and through pain. Jesus’ Good News is for broken lives, for those who have no one else to put them back together again.”