“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” — James 5:16, NIV
Many of you may be familiar with the acronym P.U.S.H., which stands for pray until something happens. Last night as I laid in bed, I thought about the power of prayer and how much prayer has changed my life. I reflected on many prayer requests that I’ve had over the years—some that have been answered and some on which I am still awaiting manifestations. Some prayers were easy to communicate (e.g., bless this food that I’m about to receive) while others took more oomph out of me (e.g., help me to forgive). I’ve even prayed about what some would consider minor issues (e.g., my Bluetooth not working in my car) and major things (e.g., healing of someone with cancer). Whether big or small, easy or hard, I am confident that God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14).
One key that I’ve learned when praying is to be transparent. My prayers are raw. I hold nothing back from God. I recall a time when I felt pure hatred building in my heart for someone. As a believer, I know that God calls us to love everyone, so the fact that I was hating this person convicted me. So, I prayed. And, honey, my initial prayers were nothing nice. They started out something to this effect:
God, I don’t want to pray for this person. I’m only doing it because You tell us to pray for our enemies. I don’t mean anything I say. I don’t want you to bless her. I don’t want you to save her. I want her to burn in hell for what she’s done.
Ouch! That definitely wasn’t Christ-like. It was brutally honest. There was no need to pretend that I felt otherwise. God already knew, and for Him to turn things around, I needed to confess the ugliness that was inside of me. The rest of the prayer was something like this:
I know that these feelings are not representative of who I am in You. Jesus, I need You to soften my heart. I want to love as You love. I want to forgive as You forgive. I want others to see me and see You in me. God, I cannot forgive her on my own. No matter how I feel about her or what she’s done, You love her, and I need to love her, too. Please help.
I prayed nearly every day and before I knew it, I started meaning everything that I said about God blessing and saving her. I don’t know if she ever gave her life to Christ or what she’s doing nowadays. The only thing I know for sure is that God completely changed my view of her. Whenever she crosses my mind now, I will say a brief prayer, “Lord, I pray that she knows You and has allowed you to heal her from her pain.”
While God does not always answer prayers in the way we want Him to, He will always use prayer to instill His fruit in us. The person giving her life to Christ is not under my control or even His. She has to make a choice to do so. Nevertheless, God used that situation as a character-building experience. I, too, had a choice. Had I not surrendered to Him, I would have continued down an emotionally destructive path.
When we pray, the external situation may not change, or it might take time to do so, but change can begin in you immediately. Prayer can renew your faith, give you a different perspective about things, and fill you with internal peace amid chaos. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” James 5:16b. Prayer works! So, P.U.S.H.—pray until something happens. That something may come packaged differently than you expected, but if you believe in God’s Word, then you can rest in His sovereignty.
If there are prayer requests that you’d like to share, please do so. I’d be honored to pray on your behalf.