Lately, I've been thinking a lot about peace.
|Um, no. Not that kind.|
It's the kind of peace Jesus talks about when He said not to be troubled or fearful. The kind of peace he promised when He said ..."the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give." (John 14.27)
I know there are times when I am guilty of approaching God like a vending machine/genie. "I need/I want..." I also recognize there are times when my approach is deep, no frivolity attached. Still, I always come away from the prayer time with something I cannot measure. Peace.
Over the years, many of my prayer requests have not been answered exactly as I asked. People with illness have not been healed, (at least not here on earth.) Reconciliations, forgiveness, important life changes, have yet to take place. Requests for a myriad of things have not been honored according to the way I envisioned, or wanted. Sometimes even the things I have prayed for, things I truly felt I needed have not come to pass.
It can make me wonder if I'm doing it wrong. It can make me question if God is listening to me. To be completely honest....it can even make me feel I might be... wasting my time.
In Philippians 4. 6-7 we're told, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Nowhere in this verse does it promise to answer my requests.
Yet, God DOES want us to come to Him with the burdens on our heart, the things that we'd otherwise fret about. But He never says, “Tell me what you need so I can fulfill it." No, He says tell me what you need and give me praise for what I have already done. THEN, you will... what? Receive all you asked for? Um, nope. It says then you will experience God's Peace... which is like nothing you can comprehend. Peace that transcends understanding. Peace that goes beyond the range of limits!
God does command us to pray. If we want to be obedient to His will, then prayer is an important part of that. I am blown away by the fact that we are also invited into conversation with Him. He wants to partner with us! And not just so we can dash in for prayer as if He's a 7-11 Jesus, grabbing the things we need (safety for my husband on the job, healing for all those people on my list-- you know who they are Lord, and please make things go smoothly for my friends who are struggling...)
He longs for us to come into intimate relationship with Him, spending time communicating, and communing with Him. Could the point of prayer be then not so much about seeking His power as it is about seeking His presence?
I am reminded of that wonderful, tender hymn "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace."
Time spent in the Presence of our Holy God is life changing. Regardless of our circumstances, and regardless of the outcome of our prayer request, the time we spend gazing on His face, soaking in His presence, THAT is what prayer is designed for.