Have you ever prayed about a very challenging situation, and then you had trouble believing God might actually answer that prayer? Guess you could consider this kind of prayer similar to a “Hail Mary,” those desperation football throws by the quarterback. So, you throw up these desperate prayers to the Lord, but because the situation seems so hopeless, you don’t have an incredible amount of faith that God may actually move in amazing ways, right now.
You know that you should pray for this particular person or problem, but the situation looks completely hopeless. You will go for it. You will pray consistently and fervently, but you’re not holding out a lot of hope that the situation is going to change much in the immediate future.
Sure, maybe later on. Maybe a few years down the road, this person may get right with the Lord or this issue may resolve itself. What happens, though, when God starts moving faster than you were even expecting?
For the last few months, I’ve prayed for two people in a challenging situation. Honestly, the whole thing is a big mess with not much hope in human terms. In fact, I was sensing that the situation was getting worse, not better. I’ve questioned my resolve as a leader and person of spiritual influence in their lives. Maybe, I’m the problem? Maybe, the supposed cure is worse than the disease?
I keep praying, though. I even started praying Scripture back to the Lord a few weeks ago. I’ve driven down the road on my way to work, praying and asking the Lord to remember his promise in Philippians 1:6 (NIV), ” being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Then, my prayer will end with, “God, you started a work in these people’s lives several years ago. I pray that you will complete that work.”
Now, to my surprise, I’ve suddenly seen a glimmer of hope in both of the people I’ve prayed for. I’m seeing a new interest in spiritual growth. I’m seeing them take baby steps in the right direction. Thank you, Lord, for your Holy Spirit’s moving in their lives!
But, should I really be this surprised that the Holy Spirit is at work in the situation?
Are any of us really any different from the early disciples whom Jesus chastised, “oh ye of little faith!?” Unfortunately, we’re not. Most of the time, I think we act in exactly the same way as they did. Our faith is small. We don’t exercise and expand our faith as much as we should.
Let me speak a word of encouragement in your life, today. Stay in faith. Keep praying. God is at work in your situation, too.
“ … The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b, NIV)