I have grown up in a church environment and in a home founded on Christian beliefs and practice. Needless to say, prayer has always been a staple and a regular part of my everyday life. We pray for meals, we pray when someone is sick, we pray for protection when we travel and for help on tests and at work. We pray for forgiveness and for strength and we pray for blessings on those that we love. Prayer is sort of like breathing to me. In fact, I am almost unaware of it most of the time. We learn that prayer is simply talking with God. It is continual conversation.
It is beautiful.
But it is something that I take for granted.
Because it is a constant and very natural part of my everyday life, it is easy to become disconnected with it. It is easy to lose sight of the purpose and to forget what is really happening. It is easy to let it become a habit and a task. It is easy to lose touch with the person I am talking to and instead get caught up in my own little world. It is easy to forget that when I am chattering away out of obligation or through my selfish desires or prideful requests, that I am in fact talking to the God of the universe who is all powerful and who holds my world, and everyone else's in the palm of His hand.
So often I tell people I will pray for them.
I mean that when I say it.
Most of the time I do. I pray genuine prayers.
Sometimes I forget.
In either case, I almost never believe as much as I should that anything will happen as I am speaking the words into what seems to be thin air.
I suppose this is a confession of sorts.
I am admitting to you that as a Christian, I have failed to believe in the power of prayer.
It's not that I don't believe that the God I pray to is all powerful or that He is capable and willing. It is simply that I have decided to take what comes from His hand without considering that my prayers really affect any of it.
I don't know if I am explaining myself well.
What I am trying to say is that I fail to believe my prayers really matter.
I pray them. I talk to God. I love talking with Him, but deep down inside of my heart I guess I believe that He has a plan and it's going to go that way and so what I am praying really doesn't make much of a difference. And it's not that I am angry about that, it is just what is happening in my subconscious.
Also take into consideration, I am a doer. I don't even know if that is really a word, but I hope you know what I mean. I am an action sort of girl. I don't like to sit around and wait or hope that things will happen, I like to get them done. I want to get my hands dirty and get right to it. This is often a fault of mine when it comes to ministry and relationship with God. He loves it so much more when I will leave things in His hands, bring them to Him in prayer and then be still and wait for Him. I struggle with this constantly and I think it is one of the reasons I fail to recognize prayer for what it really is.
To me, and my very prideful heart, prayer feels weak. Sure I can pray. I can sit down and ask God to intervene in situations and help me and guide me, but most of the time I walk away wondering what I should actually do about it. How can I touch the situation and not feel so far removed from it? And because it feels this way, I don't do it enough. I fail to utilize it because it doesn't seem like the most effective solution.
What I am failing to realize is that prayer is what God asks me to do about it. Prayer is doing something. Prayer is doing the best thing. Prayer is bringing the pieces of our lives to the God of the universe, the creator and author and authority of all things and asking Him to take care of what is His and what He knows better than anyone else.
Prayer is something I have got to stop underestimating.
This past weekend, God reminded me that prayer works and that He is indeed in control of all things. Even the things that seem uncontrollable are very much under His authority.
I currently live in Guadalajara, Mexico. Three hours from where the largest, most powerful hurricane to ever hit the planet was expected to show up. The reports were more than unsettling. The extremely advanced technological measurements and photos were terrifying. I went to bed Thursday packed and ready for a trip to the mountains with friends after school on Friday.
So much rain.
So many kids not showing up to school.
Everyone being sent home early.
The optimist in me hoped that the media was just blowing this out of proportion like they do so many other things, but the science and the reports were hard to argue with. The same devastating and inevitable predictions coming from every single source.
This was going to be huge. This was going to be destructive. This was going to be bad.
What were the chances that the year I move to Mexico the worst storm to ever hit the planet decides to follow me? #thisismylife
I am usually not a worrier and by the end of the school day on Friday, I found myself worried that I was worried. Apparently the mountains that usually served as a shelter and barrier of sorts for our portion of the country were not going to be enough this time. This category five hurricane was not stopping or slowing down. And hitting the land was not going to help.
We sat together in a friend's living room eating the dinner we were supposed to be eating around a fire in the mountains. We kept in touch with loved ones and watched the storm make its way toward land on our devices. We distracted ourselves with movies and wondered what the evening would bring.
(This photo is a comparison in size between Katrina (right) and Patricia (left)...)
Notification after notification of friends and families and churches that were praying. Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. People I didn't even know saying that they were praying for God's protection. I cannot describe how that felt. For years I have sat in church and heard reports and prayer requests from missionaries pleading with us to go before God on their behalf. Now I was on the other side. And without even asking, people were seeing the need and praying. And something told me, they were praying like they meant it. They were believing every word that came out of their mouth. They believed He could actually do something about the biggest storm in the history of the planet.
Then this verse came to mind...
You created the sea.
You created the waters and the wind.
You spoke them into existence.
You have calmed them before.
You can calm them again.
"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters..." (Genesis 1:2)
And this time, I really, genuinely believed that.
I watched the massive, swirling waves hurling themselves towards the coast of Mexico.
If I am honest, I was half way expecting the wind and the rain to start beating harshly against our windows and for the terrible reports to start showing up all over the internet. I figured we would lose power and probably internet and water.
If I am more honest, I was surprised when literally nothing happened.
Sure, it rained a lot. But that is nothing new for Guadalajara. The streets were a little flooded, but also nothing new.
No wind. Literally nothing out of the ordinary.
I went to sleep and woke up to the sun shining and the birds chirping.
And I was in awe.
Because there really is no other explanation for all of it but God.
There is no way to scientifically explain away how all of the forecasts and predictions just didn't come true. That somehow a storm of that force and size managed to suddenly slow down and change directions.
I just read this blurb in the Los Angeles Times:
"The official death count from the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere: zero."
Only. God.Sadly this storm will be less remembered because it was less destructive.
The unfortunate truth is that we remember more when He doesn't answer our prayers than when He does.
But this we must consciously change
I must consciously change.
This weekend I watched as God spared this country. The land. The people. Me.
This weekend I should have been cowering in my little upstairs apartment without power and falling asleep to pounding winds and rain.
Instead I was making memories with friends and watching God work.
I cannot walk away without a changed perspective of prayer.
It must work.
It does work.
Monday should not look or feel the way it will here.
Skies should be grayer. Roads should be wetter. Homes should be darker. People should be sadder.
Any way you look at it, it should have been so much worse.
God. Answers. Prayers.
God is more powerful than the most powerful storm that we can fathom.
God is the creator of the storm and He is the calmer of the storm.
Thank God for another testament to who He is.
"He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet.
Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love."