By Steven Davis
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
My daughter called me last night and told me her check engine light is on. Of course, she was thinking of thousands of dollars of expense, and I told her that it could be something simple and cheap. We discussed various options and determined the simplest thing to do would be for her to swing by my house, and then I could drop her off at work and take her car to the shop.
Now the good news is, the auto repair place is just a mile north of the Intentional Living Center, and it wasn’t too cold, so I decided to walk to work. As I made my way south I began to pray. And frankly I spent most of my time praying for my friend Joel, who has cancer. Joel is the last of four friends who is still alive, and he’s beaten the odds when it comes to his particular kind of cancer. Life expectancy after diagnosis is typically 27 months, and he’s going on year five. I pray for Joel nearly every day, and my prayer is pretty much the same: “Lord, please heal my friend Joel; eradicate the cancer so his kids can still have a dad. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
Our Heavenly Father is good and kind, and when it comes to my prayers for Joel, He is patient. Around the time I first started praying for Joel, there were three other brothers who had cancer: Gareth, Dave, and Buddy. All of them are with Jesus now.
Even though I don’t have the gift of healing, I do have the privilege and the calling for prayer. So I keep praying, knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me so much, He won’t get bored or annoyed. And whatever the answer is, I will rejoice. That allows me to hope.
As we enter into 2017, I will continue to pray— for my friend Joel, my family, my friends, my church, and the people who are touched by the ministries I’m involved in, especially Intentional Living.
We’ve just wrapped up our End of Year Share-a-thon, and as is often the case, I answered many calls from people who wanted to give to Intentional Living. At the end of each call, I asked if I could pray for them. This morning I prayed for two marriages to be restored, a husband to come home, a dog to be healed, a daughter to finish her term paper after her computer crashed, a husband in hospice, and many more. Talking to people that love Intentional Living is my favorite part of the job—and especially praying for them. But, I know you’re asking, “What does all this have to do with the check engine light?” I’m glad you asked.
As you know, the check engine light is a warning light, telling you that something is wrong with the car. And responsible car owners, like my daughter, get their cars in the shop as quickly as possible—or at least Dad does. So what warning lights have lit up your life? Do you have a marriage that needs healing? Then pray. Do you have to rewrite your term paper after you lost it and all of your notes because your computer crashed? Then pray. Do you have a husband of 42 years in hospice? Then pray. Do you have a friend who has cancer, who’s lived longer than expected? Then pray. For some of these, prayer is our only response. Others require prayer and action—especially for the young lady who has to rewrite her term paper.
The above examples reveal something I’ve learned about prayer from my church: Elevate prayer to the first response. Wouldn’t that be a great practice to adopt in 2017. When the warning lights of life light up, let prayer be your first response. Maybe you don’t have a mile-long walk in which to express your grief, confess your sins, pray for healing, and on and on. But if your kids see prayer as your first response, if your husband sees prayer as your first response, if your wife sees prayer as your first response, if a difficult person sees prayer as your first response, and if God sees prayer as your first response, imagine how that will change your life! You know the check engine light is going to go off, so you might as well breathe a prayer–first. May your 2017 be marked by prayer first and prayer FULL.
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