“Either God is big, or he isn’t,” Tom said.
A few weekends ago, at a conference in Ohio, I got to catch up with some friends of ours from the church we attended when we lived in Pennsylvania. Our kids had been in the same youth group and it was Tom and Beth who moved away from Pennsylvania first. A job transfer took them to Ohio, but later, Tom would leave that job and follow his dream of owning and operating (along with his wife) a food truck. The people at the City Gates Conference invited Tom and Beth to be food vendors, and I was invited to speak, so the three of us made sure to catch up, right there on the sidewalk outside the Lincoln Theater in the King Lincoln neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio.
After Tom and Beth had served up Po’ Boys and Cheesy Shrimp and Grits to a satisfied crowd, Tom and Beth and I stood in the rain, and we caught up on all the details of our families. We traced the hand of God in each story and, of the ones that still keep us praying and hoping and believing God will work a miracle, Tom said, “Either God is big, or he isn’t.” He spoke a mouthful when he said that.
Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given. We sometimes think it trite or cliché. We rush through it or we’re embarrassed by it or we stumble through it. We doubt its power and effectiveness, or we think our prayers aren’t good enough to make a difference. We forget God isn’t handing out degrees in Prayer. We forget the prayer Jesus taught is a model, in response to a request from the disciples for a guidebook of sorts, and that it is not a prescription, or a measure of effectiveness, or a sign that we’ve arrived.
So, when we hear stories of children being cut in half, or their parents beheaded because they believe in Jesus, or planes falling from the sky, or Ebola or AIDS, or girls stolen from their school and sold to men who will never see their value, we wonder if prayer can even make a dent in any of it and we are tempted to deem prayer impotent in the face of such evil and horror and disease.
Prayer is more powerful than a bomb or an army or a treaty or a pact. It is the resolution that can start a revolution. It is the weapon we’ve been given, intended to connect us to God and to intercede for others and to wage war against evil. You’ll have to decide for yourself what to do about guns and politics and war and mayhem. But we can all choose to activate the power of prayer, rather than abdicate its use and try to convince ourselves it is only ministers and pastors and missionaries and martyrs who pray prayers that make a difference. Jesus made it very clear that the way we partner with him to change the world is not up in arms, but on our knees.
Prayer begins to set things right in places we will never see, this side of heaven. In prayer, we battle against evil in the heavenly realms. We take to task the unsavory and horrific spiritual elements that give a person the constitution whereby they can take up a sword, sever a child’s head from his body, and then mount that severed head on a stake, and then do it again. And again. In matters such as these, we don’t do battle against flesh and blood. When we pray, we do battle against the fear which makes us wonder if we’d be able to stand up for Jesus with a gun pointed at our head or a sword held to our neck. When we pray, we do battle against the complacency that makes us forget we are, indeed, our brothers’ keepers and we don’t get a pass, simply because no one is (currently) holding a gun to our head in real life. When we pray, we invoke the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and that very same power gives us everything we need to do battle against hatred and division and violence and vulgar atrocities too immense to comprehend.
Prayer is not a magic formula. We don’t always see the results we hope to see. The sea may not divide in front of us. We may not witness a sudden end to hostilities and divisions between Israel and Palestine, ISIS and Christians, blacks and whites in America. But then again, we might. Because, what would happen if we truly took prayer seriously? What would happen if, when our pastors opened the doors for us to pray together, we swarmed the sanctuary and there was standing room only and the sound of the prayers shook the stained glass windows? What would happen if we turned off the television for one hour and, around the world, we took to our knees as the Body of Christ and we waged war in the heavenly realms?
Either God is big, or he isn’t. Either prayer makes a difference, or it doesn’t. Either prayer makes a difference, or it doesn’t. Either we believe that, or we don’t.
There is evil in this world because of the Fall. There is grace and healing and direct access to God because he loved us enough to send Jesus, who loved us enough to die for our deliverance from sin, and who now sits at the right hand of the Father, making intercession on our behalf. It is because of the power of the Holy Spirit that we even get to begin to believe prayer is something more than words which bounce around in the air and fall ridiculously at our feet without meaning or hope or impact.
We are not powerless here. Either God is big, or he isn’t. I am resolved to believe God is big.
When I was a little girl, every now and then, my dad would bring home a piece of poster board. On that poster board, my dad would draw a giant circle and then, using a yardstick, he would dissect that circle with lines, dividing the circle into twenty-four pie-shaped segments. Each segment represented on hour. My dad would take that piece of poster board to church and invite people there to sign up to pray for one hour. That prayer wheel united our congregation, and it made a difference in our community and in the world.
I am not trying to convince you prayer is all we need to set the world straight. That’s like saying God only wants ten percent of you and me. When it comes to spiritual battle (and take heart, spiritual battle is a real and necessary thing), prayer is the starting place, just as ten percent is a place to begin when it comes to giving ourselves and our resources to God. In prayer, God makes the next step clear. In prayer, God relieves us of our faulty, clouded perspectives and gives us a Kingdom perspective. In prayer, God makes our fear irrelevant, our misunderstanding inconsequential. Prayer unites us, first to God, and then to one another, through the matchless power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer changes things. Let’s resolve to believe that, and then let’s act accordingly.
Yes! Yes! …and yes again. Yes!
Hi, I’m Amanda from Byrd is the Wyrd. I was just curious, did you discontinue The Sunday Community? I really enjoyed that link up!
Hi, Amanda! You can join The Sunday Community, renamed Give Me Grace, and now hosted by the fabulous Lisha Epperson. You can check it out and catch up with the whole crew, right over here: http://bit.ly/1vw9zJi
Constance Ann Morrison
The words “Let’s pray” are more than a tag. They’re marching orders.
Yes! yes! I choose to believe He is BIG, and powerful enough, whether or
Not I see the effects/results of my prayers. Love you so!!!
Powerful words, my sister. Your husband’s sermon this morning and your sermon here are both stirring my heart! Thank you.
That sermon was awesome. He’s such a great preacher. I was in tears this morning, thinking of the parents who grieve the loss of their children, and at the same time, overwhelmed by the freedom to worship today. It was such a strange dichotomy. Lord, have mercy.
I’m stopping by from #GiveMeGrace, and I’m so glad I did. Your message here is powerful. Our prayers do matter. No prayer is too small. Thanks for reminding me of that tonight. “We are not powerless here. Either God is big, or he isn’t. I am resolved to believe God is big.” I believe that, too!
Amen. Today, many people wore red as a reminder to pray for those being persecuted. I want to pray for the persecutors, too. What does it take to get to the place where you can behead someone, or cut a child in half? I cannot comprehend it.
Yes, and amen. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
I haven’t had words for the current stream of news Deidra. It’s unspeakable…horrific. But I weild my sword and wage my battle in prayer. I’m resolved that our prayers reach heaven. He is bigger. He is greater and has given us power. Thank you for reminding us to use it.
We’ve got the full armor of God at our disposal. I think sometimes, I forget all about that.
Prayer does bring us together and so thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when there are no words to describe what it is that is running through our heads. I have tried to bring myself to a place of feeling what they must all be feeling…the sacrifice of lives and the courage to say without a doubt, “Jesus is Lord!” but I can’t even fathom it. I know that there is power in prayer and I believe that if we all used even 10 minutes away from social media to devote to prayer, amazing things can happen. I’m praying!!!
It is definitely hard to imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. It’s incomprehensible and so difficult to process. I know I’m pushing it, here, but I want to pray for the persecutors, too. I believe God desires to redeem and restore them, just as he longs to comfort and intercede on behalf of the oppressed. What a crazy time we’re living in. Thank God he gives us direct access to the holy of holies.
Amen, Amen, Amen! The news is overwhelming and can be so paralyzing, but I do believe God is big and He does hear and He does answer. I’m praying with you!
“In prayer, God makes the next step clear. In prayer, God relieves us of our faulty, clouded perspectives and gives us a Kingdom perspective. In prayer, God makes our fear irrelevant, our misunderstanding inconsequential. Prayer unites us, first to God, and then to one another, through the matchless power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer changes things. Let’s resolve to believe that, and then let’s act accordingly. “Amen amen… Prayer does clear our vision and heart to see and love like Him!!!! Thanks Deidra
Yes. And amen.
Thank you. I’m at a loss for any more words than that. Just thanks.
Tonya @Pinks and Lilies
I recently read this quote and it encouraged me to keep praying.
and here it is … Satan leads many to believe that prayer to God is useless and but a form.
and wow. I like your friends comment too.
Yes! And thank you, Deidra 🙂
Amen, my sister. Thank you.
Okay, so yesterday morning I was thinking about how to pray for others, not family and friends, but other strangers, countries, religions. I asked God to show me how to pray, how to make a difference from all the way in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Well, he showed me. I have an older book called 15 Minutes With God, by Emilie Barnes. Second chapter in, which is where I am at, said to pray for friends see Colossians 9: 1-12, so I did that last night, I am to read it out loud every day for 31 days. That is the prayer for others. Now, I read Deidra’s post and think, Thank you God, really, thank you so much. I asked 1 little prayer and got a whole lot of support and information on how I am supposed to do that. Thank you Deidra also, now I know that I can make a difference, by praying for all the others’ I am passing my love to them through God. Thank you and have a blessed day. Stephanie.
That’s the encouragement I need today. I don’t know why it’s made me cry but they feel like good tears. Thank you.
Wow….this is so refreshing and so on time. Thank you…now following here and on Twitter!