This is part 4 of a 5 part series. This series was written for my friends in the cardiac-rehab program at Valley Regional Hospital.
The Principle of Prayer
Praying to God for help is similar to a child asking a parent for help. The child struggles and struggles while the parent watches patiently, aware of the struggle, waiting for the child to just ask. When the child asks, the parent complies and gladly lends a hand. Sometimes, the way the parent helps is not exactly what the child expected. A good loving parent will provide the help needed in the exact time. The help provided is not always what the child thinks is needed, but what the parent thinks is good and right.
Prayer is communicating with God. It is not informing God of our situation, because God is omniscient, (which means “all-knowing,” God already knows everything). Compared to the small child, we are infinitely more in need of God. Compared to the parent, God is infinitely more able to provide help because He is all-powerful and all-knowing which means He knows the perfect solution. When we pray to God we are verbally expressing our dependence upon God for our needs. Prayer is expressing what is so very true and an ever present reality, which is, we are completely dependent upon God. To not recognize our position of need is sinful negligence. This is why the Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing; because we are in continual need of God’s help and God’s supply. We are totally dependent.
How then does praying help our stress? The Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). Supplication is a petition. In effect, we are to pray a petition of our needs to God, with thanksgiving. We do so with thankfulness because we know God is providing, and we are to be thankful for His provision. The result when we do this the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds; it will guard them from being anxious. What a wonderful result. People who are anxiety ridden can receive peace (I know of nobody who can be stressed-out and peaceful at the same time).
How is this? How can prayer provide peace to an anxious heart and mind? What if my prayers are not answered the way I want? When we pray, do we expect God to provide our list of requests, like a great big vending machine in the sky? The reason we experience peace is because we are casting our needs upon a God who is good, perfect, merciful, faithful, just, and loving. We can know God has our very best in mind always. It is taking a list of worries to a God who is fully capable, fully trustworthy, and fully knowing the best outcome at the best time. It is saying, “I really don’t know what to do about this, but I know You do. Can you please help? Thank you Heavenly Father! I knew I could count upon You for I know You love me and care for me.” After we pray, we are to continue living our life in humble obedience to God’s ways knowing God has everything under control.
Prayer is communicating with God and recognizing God is in control. However, if we do not surrender to God control of our life, if we are living in rebellion to God – God will not heed our prayers. The Bible says God does not regard the prayers of the rebellious. “Oh, but I am not rebellious,” you might respond. “I am a good person. I don’t steal, I don’t lie (most of the time) and I never murdered anybody. Of course God will heed my prayers.” If you think this way, read the next installment in this series.