During our monthly connect group meeting last month, our leader Jamie asked us, “How often do you pray? On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate yourself in praying?” Most people in the group rated themselves 5 or 6. I replied that I do indeed pray a lot. Most of them are short prayers like, “God, help me.” My prayers are not always formal, with my head bowed and my arms clasped. They are often informal and offered during my walking, driving, working, and even sleeping. It is like God is with me all the time, and I am talking to God whenever I feel the need. This is because in times of need, I have no one to turn to except God, and I feel that God alone can understand and help me. Family members and friends can help, of course, but only to a certain extent. What happens if our loved ones tell us that they cannot help? This is a very common response. But God is most powerful and graceful when we pray for help, and God promises to answer our prayers, even if the answers are not what we expect. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope’” (NIV). God always keeps God’s promises to us.
In addition to praying for God’s help in times of need, we also pray for God’s guidance, understanding, and wisdom to live in a way that is pleasing to God — just as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Evil thoughts, envy, hate, anger, and other sins surround us every day. We pray that God will help us to control these things. As Jesus tells us in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Life becomes messy and destructive when we do not give God control. Even a small sin can grow bigger if we don’t ask God to remove it. We are God’s children, and Jesus reminds us how much God cares for us, saying, “How much more valuable you are than birds!” (Luke 12:24). That is God’s assurance to all of us.
Our church connect group has 11 members and is called Living Stream. We study God’s word, build each other up, and encourage one another in our faith to endure life’s happenings. Most importantly, we pray together and for one another. We know God will hear and answer our prayers. Ironically, Jamie gave me a rating of 9 for my prayer life.