Recently I was sharing with a friend some of the rather large challenges our church is facing right now, and as I talked, I could tell by my friend’s expression that he was getting more and more concerned. When I finished talking, he asked in a very serious voice, “So what are you going to do?”. It was a reasonable question to ask - and one that I’ve found myself wrestling with over the past few weeks, as solutions to these challenges aren’t quick and easy ones. But as I’ve wrestled with the question of what to do, God has reminded me that the first, and most important thing I need to do is pray. So that’s the answer I gave my friend: I’m praying.
My friend thought about that answer for a minute, and then asked, “But how do you even go about praying for things that seem so big and overwhelming?”. Another good question - and one I spent the rest of that day pondering, because to be honest, it has felt like my prayers for these challenges aren’t being answered. So my friend’s question got me wondering if maybe I was missing something in the way I was praying.
As I thought about all of that, the Lord led me to three verses that have helped me understand how to pray about things that seem big and overwhelming. The first verse is Psalm 5:3, which says: “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” The second verse is Hebrews 4:16: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” And the third verse is Luke 22:42, where Jesus prays: “Father, if Your are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
These verses give us five simple instructions for how we should pray about the challenges in our lives - first, we should be persistent in asking ("each morning”). Second, we should be bold in asking (“come boldly to the throne”). Third, we should be confident that when we ask, He will hear us (“we WILL receive mercy and find grace”). Fourth, we should be patient in our asking (“wait expectantly”). And then finally, we should ask that no matter what, God’s will is what’s done ("not My will, but Yours be done").
I’ve spent the past few days praying this way about the challenges our church is facing, and as I’ve done so, I’ve noticed two very specific things have happened. First, none of the challenges have gone away. If anything, they’ve gotten bigger. But that hasn’t really mattered because of the second thing that’s happened - and that is, my confidence in God’s ability to handle these problems has grown. And as my confidence in God has grown, my stress level has gone down as I’ve realized that this is God’s church - so these are His challenges to solve, not mine. My role in all of this is to pray, and then to be obedient to what He tells me to do - even if what He’s telling me is, “Wait.”
And this is true in all of our lives. No matter what sort of challenges or situations we’re facing, God can handle them. We just need to focus on prayer, and obedience. So today, let’s put these truths to work in our lives as we pray. Let’s persist, let's be bold, let's be confident, let's wait expectantly for God to work, and let’s submit to His will as He answers our prayers - for our good, and for His glory.