I’ve often heard it said, prayer changes things.
What I have found is, it changes the one praying.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, lost his son last April to suicide. His son struggled with mental illness.
I like Rick Warren. If evangelicals, non-denominational, charismatic, or whatever-you-identify-yourself-with dusted off the hymnals and pews of our predecessors, Warren dusted off the tendency for any of us to get boxed in with our faith. He didn’t compromise God’s holiness by bringing him down to our level, but Warren helped us get focused on practical application and what Jesus said that looks like. I don’t know about you, but pride sneaks up on me.
Warren appeared for the first time in his church last Sunday. He said this:
“For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life and it didn’t make sense. What was happening didn’t make sense. We had the best doctors. We had the best medicine. We went to the best therapist. We had the most people praying. We have a family of deep, deep faith. It just didn’t make sense.”
It just didn’t make sense.
I lost my oldest son to suicide in September, 2005. I was a “prayer warrior” and had deep, deep faith. I cut my Christian teeth on having mountain removing faith.
But one fall afternoon, I found myself under that mountain. No one had prepared me. Actually, no one really helped me, either.
It just didn’t make sense.
Doesn’t the effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man accomplish much? Was I not righteous enough?
The fact that we would say “it didn’t make sense”, tells me we are trusting in what we thought we know to be true.
Is prayer necessary? Yes. And Jesus told us how to pray.
But somewhere along the way we picked up some extra ideas and we implemented them to the model prayer. I suspect that is wrong.
Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This … is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
Your will be done.
If we get stuck on “it didn’t make any sense”, I think we are grappling with our human good intentions … thinking we were right.
For Christians, the committed and devoted to our faith, aware of God leading and guiding His church, we have to humble ourselves and recognize that he indeed is doing that. It might mean .. no, it will mean .. letting go of some things we have been doing incorrectly.
I have since learned that the greatest faith isn’t “it didn’t happen” … but that “it did” … and I still love God.