“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
“Lord, how can I pray for you today?” the email began.
I re-read text, convinced it contained a typo. “Lord, how can I pray to you today?” Yeah, that’s what the writer meant to say. As in: “Lord, I’m beat and worried. The stress is too much. I can’t take (her, him, it) anymore. But here I am, anyway. On my knees, praying to you as if everything’s fine. But thing’s aren’t fine. So, how can I pray to you today?”
I called my friend to see if she was all right and learned she had, in fact, typed the line correctly.
“How many people pray for God?” she asked. “Not many, I bet. I just figured it was time to ask God what He needed for a change, instead of me telling Him what I wanted.”
Her prayer got me thinking — a thing I rarely do without the help of my wife (“I think, at the very least, you would want to read the instructions,” she’ll say, as my latest home repair project lies in pieces on the kitchen floor. “Dear, I think a different pair of pants would look better,” she’ll say, as I head off to church in jeans and boat shoes. “I’d think by now, after twenty years of marriage, you would be able to remember our anniversary.” And so it goes).
So I pondered on my friend’s prayer and this is what I thought. We pray for the sick, hurt or lost, for help with global warming and the containment of an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. We plead to God for a job, beg for good health and ask Him to protect our kids. But praying for God? How’s that possible? And why would we?
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he told them to: Praise God for who He is, rejoice in what God has done, ask how we should respond to His nudging and yield to His leading regardless of the circumstances.
Does God need our prayers? I doubt it. But He wants them. Perhaps that is what my friend was really trying to say: that the act of praying for God, for having a true “Lord’s Prayer” with His well-being… and will in mind, is the essence of prayer.
Study the persons God brings into your life. Observe their circumstances, feel their hurt. Help, hear and hold them when they weep. Then praise God that He’s allowed us to be His hands and ask, “Lord, how can I pray for you, Lord?” Chances are, you already have.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:13-14 (Today's New International Version)