When I agreed to lead prayer for our Immeasurably More campaign, I did so because I felt like something was missing without having the prayers of our church body united behind this campaign. I have discovered so much more because our God never wastes an opportunity and likely never accomplishes only one thing with anything He sets forth to do.
I’ve been asking myself how I can motivate others to pray for our church, for our IM campaign, and to pray more in general. I have also recently begun a detailed study on Romans. Within the first ten verses of the first chapter, a section that I have always just skimmed and set aside as unimportant because it’s “just the introduction,” God gave me something that spoke right to me, where I am, right now.
It wrapped together what I am working for in my prayer times with what I am studying. God wastes nothing in the prayer process. He is always active and doing more than we are asking for and thinking about. And holding back our prayers, for any reason, is limiting us in seeing what God can do and is actually doing.
To see where this came from, let’s go to Romans 1:8-10. Paul is writing a letter to the believers in Rome and says, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world.” Paul has been thanking God for them. This is the first hint that he has been praying for the Romans. In verse 9, he says, “For God, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about His Son, is my witness that I constantly mention you.” The Word constantly lets us know how often Paul prays, which must be all the time, considering the Romans were not the only people for whom he prayed. These two verses alone are confirmation of the necessity of our prayers, but it was verse 10 that truly spoke to me. “Always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” Paul was asking God if it was somehow in His will for Paul to succeed in coming to the Romans.
The beauty of that request is multifaceted. For one, it proves that Paul was persistent in prayer. And I love how he asks if it is in God’s will. I have decided to adopt this phrase when I am seeking an answer from God. Sometimes I allow fear of God saying, “No,” to hold me back from even asking for something. That little phrase seems freeing to me. But the best part about this prayer is that the Bible contains God’s answer to it.
In Acts 28, Paul’s journey to Rome is laid out. Yes, Paul made it to Rome, and it was certainly not in the way I’m sure he envisioned making it. It fit more into the somehow category. You see, Paul made it to Rome as a prisoner. His captors likely thought he had no choice in the matter. But Paul knew better. He knew it was God’s plan and an answer to his prayers. Somehow, even though he was a prisoner, he remained there for two whole years, witnessing to the Romans.
Two years was long for Paul to stay in any one place. And here’s where I feel like God wasted none of the efforts of Paul’s prayers. He did not only answer Paul’s prayer with a yes, he used Paul’s prayers to prepare him for the trials to come. Being imprisoned is never something anyone looks forward to or would, under normal circumstances, willingly subject themselves to. But Paul did. And I think the mentality to be able to do so began with his prayer to visit the Romans if it was in God’s will. Because when God finally answered and the opportunity presented itself in the form of being taken in chains, I think there was a part of Paul that rejoiced at finally being able to go. He could look at his circumstances in a whole new light. One of answered prayer and surety of walking in God’s will. God did not waste even the process of Paul’s wrestling in prayer and the length of time between his asking and God’s answering, as that, too, was used in preparation for God’s plan for Paul’s life as well as the Romans’.
It is my hope that this is somehow motivating or encouraging for you to overcome your fears or whatever other obstacles there are for prayer in your life. It is my hope that you don’t fear asking for something because even an answer of no is not a wasted prayer. And it is my hope that for those of you who have been praying over something for a length of time might take encouragement from the fact that your time waiting is not wasted.
I will leave you with my last parting thoughts on our prayers. I believe that each of our prayers with the Lord are exquisite and unique, like a snowflake. When each of us prays, it creates this delicate and elegant thing, where no two are alike. There is beauty and value in each flake. However, when all of those flakes come together, something entirely different arises. Something that can be powerful enough to stop life around us from continuing on as usual, and yet at the same time create an image of beauty and peace as you watch the landscape around you change from dull winter browns to a sparkling playground. I think our prayers can be this way, too. Your prayers on your own will not be wasted. They are unique and beautiful and valued. But our prayers, when combined together, can create a force to be reckoned with, as well as change the landscape around us.
Please join us in praying for Northstar Church, the Immeasurably More campaign, and our community by clicking here to see our latest prayer sheet.