Many of the words we say are throwaways. We talk to be talking. The content isn’t relevant or important. Just a blurb. Throwaway lines.
But our prayers? Is there such a thing as a throwaway prayer?
Wait in Line
The outside line was long and slow-moving. Mothers and a few fathers stood outside in the cold (and sometimes rain).
Their goal? Pick out free Christmas gifts for each of their children, specifically, a stuffed animal, a book per child, a new-in-the-package toy, and a stocking stuffer.
And a prayer.
I don’t know if they all appreciate that particular gift. Or if they just tolerate it. But no one turns it away when we offer a prayer of blessing as they wait in line at Manna House for Christmas.
My Spanish is poor, but when one quiet Hispanic lady urgently wanted to tell me something before we prayed, I did my best to understand.
In her broken English, she explained that she had been in this line four years earlier. And a young lady from our group had prayed for her.
Three months later, something happened. I was all ears.
But My Little Prayers?
Praying for person after person, only briefly learning their names and needs, can sometimes leave you with questions of your own.
- Are my non-eloquent and often stumbling words adequate enough for this responsibility?
- Do I know this person or their needs enough to be praying for them?
- What if I pray for the wrong thing or make them feel awkward or harm their faith?
Is my prayer a throwaway prayer?
Why Every Prayer Matters
As I listened to the lady detail her story to me, I heard the answer: No. No prayer is a throwaway. No prayer is unimportant.
Every prayer matters because. . .
- God is listening.
Even when our prayers aren’t adequately heard or understood by others, God hears every word. When our message is incoherent even to ourselves at times, God still knows what we mean. God even pays attention to the thoughts underneath the words, hearing as his Spirit translates them into coherent requests.
He loves when we talk to him. He is honored by our requests.
- God knows what’s best.
Our prayers matter even if we ask for the “wrong” thing. We can trust our Father to answer in the best way. He is smart enough and good enough to give us what we really need, not just what we ask for. We won’t throw him off-track by begging for Job B if he’s already lined up Job A for us.
We don’t have to pray the answers. We just make the requests.
- God has power to act.
I’m sometimes reluctant to pray for someone because I know I can’t really help their situation. But isn’t that exactly why I need to pray? I can’t do much, but God can.
My words are just the smoke signal. His words make things happen.
Her Answered Prayer
The lady finished her story.
On that Christmas four years ago, she had recently experienced a miscarriage. She had been devastated. She had asked and received prayers about it.
Three months later, she was pregnant again. And this time she carried to term. Now she was here to bless her three-year-old daughter with Christmas gifts from Manna House.
She wanted to be sure someone knew. The prayer had been answered. Dios te bendiga.
And I was the blessed one to receive her story. Why? Maybe because four years ago, my own daughter was one of the young women praying over these moms. Could she have been the very one who prayed over this lady? Was it her prayer that was answered, a quick prayer in a moving line over a stranger she didn’t know?
Yes. Jenna confirmed it when I told her the story.
Every prayer makes a difference.
Because God is different. He’s not like us. He’s better. Wiser. Stronger.
May we never lose confidence to pray for others. Not because of who we are, but because of who God is.
No prayer is a throwaway.
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Prayer can be a mystery to us. But it’s not to God. Please share your thoughts about prayer in the comments.
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