I will be the first to admit that within the sovereign will of God, I am unsure exactly how the process of prayer can change our circumstances, yet, somehow, we know that its power is far greater than our human intellect can fathom. Jesus assured us that we would have problems on this earth (quite a bit more than I ever thought possible, quite frankly), but He promised that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). God is sovereign, in complete control; all He asks us to do is believe that He is on our side and pray without losing hope (Luke 18:1). Thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice, we now have a channel through which He releases the kind of hope that will carry us through the fiascoes of life and give us the strength to continue believing for a breakthrough.
It’s called prayer. Let’s be clear, though, it is not the last resort, crisis-mode emergency prayer but the kind of prayer that grows from abiding in a holy, omniscient Creator. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of crisis moments when God intervenes, even for unbelievers, and that is because He is constantly trying to stir the souls of humanity toward Him. He alone knows the outcome of whatever mess you’re in, whether you’ve completely brought it on yourself or whether it’s blatant, unjust suffering. I have experienced both. At times, I have wondered if my circumstances were a form of payback for the things I had done and if maybe God would not answer my prayers simply for that reason.
After many years of walking with Christ, I now recognize those lies as the voice of the enemy, who is determined to steal our hope, kill our souls, and destroy our trust in Jesus, holding us hostage to our (already forgiven) sin. Any time that voice begins to creep into my mind, I declare directly that he is a created being with zero authority over my life! Many of us want the Father to change our circumstances, begging Him to do what we deem the right thing at that moment, often due to our emotional reactions. If God actually granted all of our requests, what a colossal group of dysfunctional brats we would be! A bunch of demanding, ungrateful children, asking the wrong things at the wrong times is not at all what God intends our earthly transformation to look like.
Take Jonah, for example. Initially, he rebelled against God by refusing to go to Ninevah because he knew that God was gracious and merciful, thereby saving wicked people. Ironically, he then thanks God for saving his life (that of a rebellious messenger) after he lands in the belly of a fish for three days. He promptly exits the belly and marches into Ninevah, preaching repentance. His circumstances put some things in perspective, wouldn’t you agree?
Thankfully, hindsight often reveals that God’s “denial” protected us from a much bigger disaster than if He had given us our way from the start. As we mature spiritually, we understand that God’s sovereignty is what makes prayer effective; He always acts on our behalf to prosper us, to give us a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11). God is our loving Father, which means He may not always give us exactly what we ask for because, well, asking for that ex-boyfriend to be attacked by piranhas while he’s on a mission trip just doesn’t line up with the Word. When we sincerely pray with His will in mind, we are the ones who begin to transform, giving up our right to control the situation and truly embracing the joy He alone can give.
Consider also that the extraordinary privilege of prayer comes with the benefit of having the Holy Spirit pray for us—I don’t know about you, but that completely transcends every ounce of intellect I possess. I challenge you to identify an area in your life that needs God’s transformation, and through prayer, thank Him in advance for what He has already done. This is not a natural thing to do, believe me. Prayer is not about having no doubt; it is simply about taking the Father at His word and moving forward in faith. Your focus could be a negative attitude in the area of finances (proclaim Him as your supplier), a broken relationship (speak restoration and peace over all parties), or physical illness (speak directly to the Great Physician, permitting Him to heal you however He chooses).
Be consistent and watch it transform you; then, watch God transform the situation! He has a 360-degree view of our lives and knows what specific circumstances will give us the opportunity to grow in our walks with Him. Whether or not we receive that perspective and move forward with the lessons that He is attempting to teach us is our choice. We can either accept His plan in the package He wraps it or continue complaining and begging for what we want and become bitter. The end result all depends on whether we will take Him at His word, leaving all the consequences in His perfect hands.
Featured Image by Samuel Scrimshaw
In-Text Image by Corinne Kutz