Praying is More Than a Command
No one can argue that we are commanded to pray. Moreover, it isn’t bad to think of praying from the standpoint of obedience. However, we need to understand some things about prayer that make the command all the more poignant.
So many approach praying thinking that they are somehow bearing upon God and changing Him. Changing His will for a situation. What prayer does, and we see this modeled (by Christ’s prayer in the garden) is change us. We bring ourselves into subjection to the will of God by praying for His will to be done. Consequently submitting ourselves to that will.
In short, prayer is good for us. But it also has the added benefit of being good for those we pray for…
Putting Legs to Praying
Back on September 12th2020 I was participating in a freedom rally of sorts. While there I had the honor of praying for a sister in Christ as she prepared to lead the gathered masses in song. She is a veteran of leading in this way, but my desire was for all who heard to have their hearts and minds bent towards submission to God. I wanted her singing to be a means by which that was accomplished. After all, singing is instructive according to Scripture.
The interesting thing about this brief moment of prayer is that in the midst of it the Enemy sought to disrupt us through the vulgar hawking of a t-shirt salesman. We had encountered this man at other rallies and many of us had been unsettled by his demeanor and crass manner. Yet, in the midst of that prayer my sister turned and openly rebuked the man. What I saw in his eyes in that moment and throughout the rest of the day was a softened attitude. He continued to sell his crass wares, but he was rightly quieted.
This beloved sister and I went back and forth in the hours and days that followed. She felt guilt stricken for being harsh towards him. But I wanted her to be encouraged. God delivered that man to that exact spot in that exact moment to hear that rebuke while we were in the midst of praying. I struggled to explain this to her. Consequently, my heart ached for the pain she felt. It was understandable on the human level. But praying in that moment for just such further opportunities that day quickly came to mind.
When God Opens Windows, You Make Doors
As speaker after speaker approached the podium to speak that day, they were met with more than applause and cheers of gratitude. As the current climate of the day would have it, there were angry Marxists radicals in attendance. These representatives from Black Lives Matter, Antifa and Black Block, (barely a handful all told) were loud, vulgar and vocal.
I watched as time after time these subversive radicals attempted to incite the rally participants to anger and then violence. Sadly, many of the people in attendance took the bait and began to shout back at the subversives using foul language and insults. Having been to several such rallies in the past I have often called on people to not sink to such a level. Unfortunately, this is often met with scorn and derision of its own.
As I walked around helping to keep the main speaking area free from unneeded traffic and bodies, I was saddened to see several groups perfectly exemplifying everything that the Leftist say about patriotic conservatives. But I was also encouraged to hear more and more participants and speakers calling for civility from our side.
But then God opened a window and I am so thankful he did. A member of the Rocks and Cows contingency of farmers from Northern Minnesota was invited to come and speak. This bold and kind-hearted soul used his time at the microphone to talk about his faith and his reason for being part of the rally. And I quickly realized God was not done with praying that day.
Praying for Farmers Leads to an Outburst
Near the end of the rally the Rocks and Cows contingency was preparing to leave. My dear sister announced that the organizers of the event wanted the crowd to pray for their safe trip home. A brother in Christ approached me and asked if I would be willing to pray over these gentle patriots and I agreed.
As the crowd grew silent and still and I began praying, the riotous radicals began attempting to shout me down. In that moment I was faced with some decisions.
End the prayer quickly…
Ignore the cacophony of noise bent on distracting me…
Pray for those who were angry…
I chose to pray for the Radicals. And something strange happened. They grew silent. Not just quiet, but their mouths were stopped.
I prayed for the farmers and their harvest. I prayed for the elected servants and asked that God would remind them Who they serve. But more than that, I prayed for the salvation of the Radical Leftists. I prayed the Gospel over those poor wretched souls.
Bringing the Gospel was God’s Will
Because, left to my own devices I would be no different than them. Worse still, I may hold all of the right political positions that would make me acceptable to “mainstream” conservative Republicans. But without Christ, holding the right positions won’t save.
In that crowd that day there were many lost souls. Moreover, those lost souls were on both sides of the line of Minnesota State Patrol Troopers there to keep the peace. Only God knows if praying the Gospel that day drew any to Christ, but that wasn’t the point of praying.
I prayed the Gospel, as clumsy and as unscripted as it was in that moment, because my desire was for all to hear it. But more than that, I wanted to magnify Christ. Within moments of my closing “amen” the radicals quietly packed up and walked away.
I will never know if what I said that day was effective, but I do know that I did my best to exemplify Isaiah 55:11. Now I trust that God’s Word did not return void in that moment.
Soli Deo Gloria!