My travelling to and from sites has really kicked up a notch lately which has corresponded to almost weekly visits to either Chickfila or Zaxby’s, so much so that it seems commonplace to visit such fine establishments (part of that could be that I was on the road Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week and, you guessed it, I had some kind of delicious fried chicken at least once each day). Don’t get me wrong, I love the frequency with which I get to eat at these places, despite the fact that I have to travel 125+ miles to get to one, it is just that now I am getting it once or twice (or three times) a week I’m almost tempted to see what other fine establishments I can find in the cities I travel to. *Gasp* I know, that must sound like borderline blasphemy.
One positive note from this week, Ayla has finally started walking without being prompted. She has been capable of walking for a month or two now, she has just chosen not to. She has stubbornly refused to take more than a couple steps despite the fact that she often “walks” around on her knees doing a little shuffle around the floor. It is actually kind of comical as she looks kind of like a duck waddling around. Nevertheless, she is finally walking and it is still somewhat of a surprise to hear her calling my name and running full tilt around the corner instead of crawling to me every time I get home from work. It has only taken 18 months but now she is off the ground and we can finally go do things that don’t mix well with crawling, things like camping.
Who says God does not have a sense of humor? There’s a guy that I have been meeting and praying with who has begun to make some not very wise decisions and has really stopped listening to wise counsel. As I prayed for him the other day there was a sense of frustration and desperation; frustration because he is headed down this path and there is seemingly little I can do about it, and desperation because I know the path these actions will lead him down. As I pleaded with God, “What do I do?” An image that seemed exceedingly irrelevant popped into my head. The image was the scene in “Finding Nemo” where Dory swims into the blackness chanting “Just keep swimming” in her sing-song voice. As I tried to push this thought from my mind audio suddenly accompanied this scene and I was suddenly filled with a rush of understanding and peace. “Just keep praying.”
I followed this train of thought up with some study on Abraham and his conversation with God just before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It strikes me that Abraham likely would not have cared about the fate of Sodom if not for the fact that it is where his nephew had decided to take up residence. It takes a little reading between the lines, but I have come to believe that the whole conversation that ensued was out of Abraham’s desperation to save Lot. Reading this story in that light really begins to change the Abraham’s tone, all of a sudden, rather than having this casual “what if” conversation I began to hear the desperation in Abraham’s voice, that tinge of urgency each time he summons up the courage to ask God just one more time about a few number of righteous in the city.
This put things in perspective for me; Abraham loved Lot so much that he desperately pleaded with God on his behalf… why don’t I have this desperation, this sense of urgency when I pray? If I truly consider it, the situation is no less dire. I love this guy as a brother and I would do practically anything for him, so where is my desperation? I cannot answer that question, but I realize that might speak volumes about my ability to love. Ultimately this drives me right back to God because I need more of Him, I need Him to expand my capacity to love, and that is exactly where I should be. I’m not saying that desperation is some magical solution to unlocking the potential of prayer. I believe that, as long as our hearts are right with God, He hears and answers all of our prayers (not always in the way or timing we like, but answers nevertheless). But what I am saying is that I see God answering the prayers of desperation in powerful and miraculous ways all throughout Scripture. Abraham conversed with God and, in a sense changed God’s mind, at a minimum it caused God to remember Abraham and bring Lot and his family out of Sodom before its destruction. Hannah, in one of the most godless times in the nation of Israel (which is really saying something), prayed to God with such desperation that Eli thought she was drunk, and God granted her a son who would one day become one of the most influential spiritual leaders in Israel’s history. The early church sought God when Peter was imprisoned and they could hardly believe that God had actually listened to their petitions when He busted Peter out of prison and deposited him at their front door. God responds to these heartfelt and desperate prayers in amazing ways and I want that. Ultimately I want to love and desire as these people did.
James 5:16 says that “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I want to pray with fervency, with power and to great effect; I don’t want to utter careless words before God that hold little meaning or emotion, but strong emotion does not come naturally to me. I am a typically a very reserved individual. God, move me outside of my comfort zone, let my prayers be passionate and real. Fill me with your understanding and compassion. Let me see this world through your eyes.