By: Rev. John Sanders
Today, followers of Jesus are observing the National Day of Prayer – I hope you’ll join me in praying for our nation’s leaders.
It’s no secret: we’re living in a time marked by near-violent disparity in the political arena. Resist the urge to try and pray someone into your political party of choice; instead, let’s spend some time with God and ask Him to give wisdom and grace to our elected officials. Most of us will never be able to comprehend the gravity of the decisions they must make on our behalf. It must be maddening, so pray that they are able to find some rest despite the chaos. While you’re at it, pray for their families. Pray for their staff teams, too.
But later this afternoon, I’m going to shift my observance of the National Day of Prayer from praying for America to praying for Americans at the most grassroots level. Specifically, I’m going to pray for my neighbors as I walk through my neighborhood.
If there are toys in the yard, I’ll pray for their kids. If there’s an abundance of cars in the driveway, I’ll pray for their teenager (every teenager I’ve ever met needs all the prayers he or she can get!). I’ll pray for their spiritual health, but I’ll pray that I can be a neighbor worth knowing and trusting–after all, that’s probably why God planted me in my neighborhood.
Big things happen when we pray, but not necessarily in ways most of us grew up understanding. Prayer is not a mystical tool wielded by Christians in an effort to change the future, nor does it provide a guarantee that all the world’s ills will be eradicated. It’s not a hotline whereby we make demands of God, though as a loving Father, He is eager to receive our requests.
The most powerful outcome of prayer is a changed heart. God is powerful enough to change anything He chooses, but most often, prayer profoundly changes the one who is praying. When I pray for someone, I’m more likely to see them the way God sees them. Compassion moves into the place that was previously occupied by anger or frustration.
Prayer is intended for the created more than the Creator. The ability to communicate with God is an intimate gift. May we recognize it as such as we spend time with the Almighty, today and every day!
We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Daniel 9:18 NIV
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church @ Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.