Sunday, January 19, 2014
Prayers Are More Powerful Than We Know
Often when we say those words, we often feel inadequate. It means we don't have anything more to offer, other than kind words that may not be heard, or a shoulder that won't be strong enough to share the burden.
During the last month, however, I've found that those words are a lot more powerful than we think.
There have been many days when it feels like the prayers of my friends are the net that catches me when I fall. Yes, I still fall, but it's not the bone crushing landing that I expect. Instead, I bounce back like the high wire walker making a misstep who bounces on the net, then comes back to his feet and climbs back up the ladder to go again. The fall is frightening and I feel like I'll plunge into the dark pit of grief and never climb out, but before I disappear into the abyss, the net of prayer catches me. I climb back up the ladder of life and start walking again.
Yesterday morning I received an unexpected sympathy card. For a couple of weeks the sympathy cards and Christmas cards mingled in my mailbox, a sad statement of the mixed joy and sadness the season brought, but there hadn't been any cards in a while.
Yet this friend, who I've worked with on some animal rescues, remembered me. She sent a card to tell me, beyond the sweet verses, that she was praying for me still and that my friends love and care about me. Far more than the card, which was nice, her handwritten words buoyed me up for another day.
Occasionally friends will message me that they are praying for me. Sometimes it's in response to a new struggle, and sometimes just a note to remind me they are there and care. Yet I know in my soul that there are prayers being said that I don't ever know about, because without them I could not be making it day to day.
I'll pray for you.
Those words are so much more powerful than we give them credit for being, because a prayer is a message to God and although we aren't always sure of the answer, He listens and responds. Without that response I know that I'm not alone in being a person who could not make it through another day.
We've all heard the misused saying that God will not put upon us more than we can bear, when in fact He regularly allows more than we can bear ALONE to come into our lives. (The actual verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads in part But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear and refers to temptation). Instead He gives us more than we can bear so we will turn to Him, and the way to do that is through prayer and faith.
In order to really rely on God and trust in God, we don't need to believe that He won't allow us to suffer more than we can bear, we have to believe that we won't be alone and He will be there to see us through. That's facing up to our limitations and knowing that we're not strong enough. That's a reality that I've had to face. When people look at me and say, "You're so strong," or "I don't know how you can bear it," the answer is I'm not, and I can't, at least not alone.
Alone I would stay in the bed and be of no use to anyone. Alone the sorrow would consume me. Alone I would have no hope that this has a purpose and that I have to work and suffer to fulfill my part of it, just as Ethan had to suffer for a time to fulfill his part in it.
I have to admit that there have been times in the past when I've looked at people and wondered how they went on. I've wondered how they had the strength, the courage, the faith to face another day and let the tragedy that had overtaken them become not just part of who they were, but a blessing to others. Now I know that it is a trial by fire and from the outside it's impossible to comprehend. It's clinging to the small lifeline of your own faith and allowing prayers and God to do the work that puts you back together and keeps you moving.
I still look at some of those people and know I'm a long way from there, but I feel the net of prayers holding me up and I know I have to get up and keep moving. I know it's not my prayers alone, because I'm just one voice and sometimes my voice falters and grows quiet. Without those who remember me, I believe I still might fall.
So instead of prayer being our last resort when we cannot think of anything to do ourselves, it should be the first thing we think of. We shouldn't undervalue its importance in times of tragedy, or in our day-to-day lives.
Ask for prayers. Send up prayers. Strengthen one another with prayers.
And don't feel like you're doing nothing. Recognize that you're doing the absolute best thing you can do.