Are You a Prayer Worrier or a Prayer Warrior?
Most of us tend to pray when things seem to get out of control. We pray when we notice we need God's help because we can't seem to do things independently. Don't get me wrong, this is a great time to pray, but why do we wait until things are out of our own control?
Growing up, I struggled to trust in a God I did not really know. I trusted in my own power and the influence of my friends. I worried about what they would think above what God would think and it left me anxious and fearful.
When I became a foster and adoptive parent, I realized many times that there was so much I didn't have any control over. Out of necessity, I realized if I wanted peace, I had to ask my heavenly father to intervene.
Knowing how much you can actually love someone and yet be forced to acknowledge that you can't make life perfect for them hurts greatly. Yes, you can kiss booboos, and you can hug them when they are sad, but you can't make all the bad things in the past go away. You can't keep them from making painful mistakes; you can't always keep others from hurting them and you can’t even keep yourself from hurting them. It has been so emotionally painful to realize this.
I can't imagine feeling this vulnerable and not having God to turn to when I need someone more significant and more in control than me to intervene for my kids. (Yes, they are all mine in my heart because Jesus put them in my heart, even if I didn't give birth to them). How does a parent with a wayward child find comfort when they don't have a loving God to turn to?
Praying in times of stress has brought me much relief. My desire to share this relief had been fulfilled many times over.
One particular afternoon, I was visiting a friend who needed encouragement. As I waited at her front step after knocking on her apartment door in a sea of apartment buildings, I overheard screams of desperation coming from a separate apartment building.
My heart leaped into my throat as I leaned into the sound to discover if someone was just angry or if someone was in distress and needed assistance. I noticed the voice coming from one of the adjacent apartment buildings with the backside facing me. I could only see the fence surrounding the back yard, though where the sound came from was unmistakable.
The tumultuous sound of a desperate mother's raspy voice echoed in between the buildings. I could make out a few words and reasoned she was begging her teenage son to listen to her and to stop doing things that would hurt him and break her heart. I could hear that she had been yelling for quite some time as her voice was giving out.
The volume of her voice waxed and waned as she moved in and out of her back door. I imagined she was following him around. I remember hearing very little of her son. If he did say anything, it wasn't very kind or helpful because his talking only seemed to make her tone more desperate. My heart ached for this mom. I could tell that her anger was filled with fear for her son and he could not seem to understand it as many don't.
The opening of the door I'd knocked on brought my attention back. I went inside to support and encourage my friend. As much as I tried to focus on the reason for my visit, I couldn't shake the feeling that God had called me there for another reason. I felt the Spirit drawing me to that desperate mother. My heart longed to comfort her somehow, but what could I do?
Fear of the unknown kept me from leaping out of my seat and racing to find this mom to try and console her. What would she think? Would I embarrass her? Would I only make things worse? Doubt tried to take hold as it often does when we wait to answer the Spirit's call. Finally, I couldn't hold back any longer. I told my friend I had some "God" business to tend to outside and I excused myself for a moment.
Outside once again, I could hear the mother's raspy cry from outside her apartment. I counted the doors to determine which one was hers and went around the front of the building to her door. My heart was racing as I knocked. For a quick second I wondered what I would say but God reminded me He would give me the words. I waited and prayed the mother would be receptive to my uninvited visit. My first knock went unanswered so I knocked again.
I waited as the tumult within fell silent. Then, the door opened. An exhausted disheveled mother looked out at me through tear-stained eyes. She couldn't even speak.
I nervously cleared my throat and said, “I am sorry to disturb you, but God told me you could use a hug.”
The woman burst into tears and fell into my arms. Her sobs shook my shoulder as I desperately tried to compose myself and get the strength to ask her if I could pray for her. I could not, so I simply held her until her sobs subsided.
Finally, I regained my own composure and I asked if I could pray for her. She agreed. I took a slow deep breath and quietly prayed for comfort, strength and patience. I prayed for mercy and grace upon her son as well as wisdom for him to see how his actions would affect his life.
I don't remember everything I said in that moment. I do remember the entire situation felt like an eternity. In reality it was over in just a few minutes. The mother thanked me and closed the door. I walked back to my friends' home. I felt a quiet in her apartment that was not there before. The storm had subsided; at least for that moment.
I have never seen that woman again, but that experience has stayed with me. I've often wondered if her heart crying out to God at that moment. I've wondered if He sent me to let her know He was listening.
It's experiences like this that have made me a warrior and not a worrier when I pray. I no longer wonder if God hears me or if He will answer. I know He is listening and will answer. There is no room for doubt in my heart anymore.
It's taken a few decades of experiencing life to learn this important lesson: We can be a prayer worrier or a prayer warrior.
When we pray, it's tempting to be a worrier, not really giving our burdens to God but hoping and begging He will hear us and give us what we want. This approach to prayer leaves us prone to anxiety about what we think needs to happen in life. Do we wait to give our burdens to God until we have exhausted our own power to manage the situation? If this is so, we may be praying out of worry. This kind of prayer lacks real power.
In contrast, we can completely give our burden over to God and leave them (whatever we are praying for) in His hands. We can trusting that He knows what is ultimately best. We can have confidence that He will work it all out in the end, regardless of the results.
Are we willing to boldly and confidently proclaim His promises, knowing that He will not fail us? Like Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, we can declare, "Our God will save us from the fiery furnace, but if He doesn't, we will be resurrected." Like David, we can boldly scold a giant for speaking ill of our God and go into battle against him with nothing but a sling and a pebble because we believe God will defend our people as He said He would. We can stand before earthly kings and powers like Esther did, knowing it may mean death. She knew of God's power to save.
To be a prayer warrior, we don't have to do amazing feats like Shadrack, David and Esther. But we do need to be willing to know God's Word and believe it with all our heart as they did. A prayer warrior fights on their knees for themselves and those in need because they understand that prayer is the most underrated and yet most potent weapon we have against our enemy.
Prayer is what equiped spiritual heroes like Daniel, Joseph and Deborah. It kept the virgin pregnant girl alive and hopeful in a time when her condition was punishable by stoning. It kept a nation of desert wanderers alive and thriving for 40 years. It provided for widows and their daughters-in-law during hard times.
I could go on and on. Prayer has been and still is the answer to every human problem.
Becoming a prayer warrior takes time, practice and commitment. Thankfully, God is patient with us as we grow. He has given us the Holy Spirit to pray for us when we do not have the words. As we practice and learn, God provides us ample opportunity to see that His Word is true, that He is faithful and that we need not doubt or worry. All we need to do is pray.
Pray before worry sets in. Pray when worry tempts us to doubt. Praise Him before we see evidence of His answer.
As you grow in faith and your prayer journey, pray and wait on the Lord. Open your heart to what He provides. It may not be what you expected, but it will be miraculous. He will not fail you. That I can promise.
Two or More Ministries is a nonprofit prayer ministry sponsored by the Hillsboro Seventh-day Adventist Church in Oregon. They believe the words of Mathew 18:20, "Where two or more are gathered in my name I am there.” The ministry supports those looking for prayer and those seeking to grow their prayer skills. Prayer warriors pray daily for each request that comes through Facebook and the Hillsboro SDA Church website. The ministry also holds prayer meetings via Zoom videoconferencing every Friday at 8 p.m. It is their hope to encourage and uplift God's people through prayer and to ignite a desire to pray earnestly so we may more clearly see the power of God's love alive and at work in our lives.