“Have you prayed about it?”
It’s a question I find myself asking people a lot lately. And it’s an honest question that I hope they take seriously. Far too often, we say that we’re praying about something or that we’re going to pray about something when really we just want people to think that we’re praying about it. I’ve been guilty of this myself more times than I care to admit. This is very unfortunate.
We face a lot of stuff in our day-to-day lives. Stuff we simply can’t handle on our own. Stress. Discontentment. Temptation. Financial burdens. Family crises. Strained relationships. Sickness. Loss. Loneliness. Lack of self-worth. Big life decisions. The list goes on and on. We deal with these things the best way we know how. Friends and family come alongside us and try to help. Sometimes we see counselors and professionals who know more about these things than we do, and they offer their advice. Seeking help from others is a great thing, and I urge people to do it all the time. But in all honesty, no one can help us the way God can.
Because no one understands like God does. He created each and every one of us. He knows exactly what we’re dealing with and why we’re having to deal with it. He is unlike any of us in that He sees the big picture, and He offers us support and guidance as we try to navigate our crazy lives. All we have to do is just stop for a second and communicate with Him.
The book of James offers a lot of very practical advice on how to live the Christian life. In chapter five, James talks about the importance of prayer when facing different circumstances.
Multiple times in this passage, the word of God commands Christians to pray. When you’re in trouble (and honestly, who isn’t?), pray. When you’re happy, sing praise. When you’re sick, gather with your church leaders and pray. James tells us we are to pray for each other for healing because we all need it, and prayer is powerful. Look at the story of Elijah. Through prayer, Elijah was able to influence the weather. If one man’s prayer can cause three and a half years of drought, don’t you think your honest prayers can help you in your particular situation?
I am thoroughly convinced that we should come to God with everything. Every decision. Every issue. Every worry. I firmly believe that if we would just come to God in prayer and hand those things over to Him, we’d be a lot less stressed, and our situations would improve. And I’m not just talking about big stuff like trying to figure out which school to go to or asking God to heal someone with a horrible illness. I’m talking about the small, everyday things, too. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God wants us to be in constant communication with Him. He cares about everything going on in your life. There is nothing too small to bring before God. And if you can learn to come to Him with the little things, it’ll be easier to come to Him when you’re facing the big things.
When an issue comes up in your life, you have a lot of choices. You can think about it. You can worry about it. You can talk about it. You can cry about it. But until you pray about it, you’re not going to get very far. Once you humble yourself before God and lay your troubles before Him, He will give you a peace like you have never imagined. Will those issues magically disappear? No. But you’ll know that they’re in God’s hands and that He is going to guide you every step of the way until you’ve overcome them.
Of course, there is so much more to prayer than just telling God about what you’re facing and asking for guidance on it. This is just one aspect of the beautiful act of communicating with God through prayer. But I’ll leave the rest for another blog post. For now, I would just like to challenge you to get into a habit of praying about things before doing anything else. Before you try to make a plan or before you give up or before you do whatever it is you do, take a second. Breathe. And pray.