I have been thinking about prayer the past month and decided to finally put my thoughts down.
Situation: A close friend of mine had an accident on his bike that also involved their 2 year old son. Both were really skinned up and for a while we were worried that the child had suffered a concussion, a broken arm, a tooth impaction and would at least need stitches.
Being out of the church circles for so long now has changed how I react in a situation like this. I realized when the bike accident happened that my first impulse a few years ago would have been to pick up to phone and "get everyone praying" in the church. (Note: this is often done without permission, thus shoving someone's lives into the spotlight that is not even yours to unveil. I'm amazed how much is shared between Christians that is not theirs to share!!! It also always made me somehow feel important that I was the one privy to the information. How sick is that?)
In this instance, I simply went over and offered my help deciding whether or not to go to the emergency room, getting the bike picked up and back to the house and yes, praying that the Father would be there amidst the pain and confusion. But it was just me...and them. It was intimate but it was also a revelation to me to realize that I did not need EVERYONE praying to feel like God heard me. I was suddenly confident that my prayer mattered.
Before, I think my faith was watered down. I felt that if more people were praying then somehow I had a better chance of getting my prayers answered. Or if the RIGHT person would pray, then God would hear and answer. Who knew who that "right person" would be. So you got everyone to pray. There were people in the church "prayer warriors" who you just had to call as if they had the special hot line to God. Where did we get this stuff????
Now I experienced a surge in confidence. It was just me and God. He heard me. He loved us. He hurt for the skinned and broken skin and pain. He wanted to walk through this with us and who knows, He just may have stepped in and healed a few things. The child had no concussion, no broken arm, needed no stitches and his teeth were all fine. The scabs healed and in a week you could not believe he had looked so bad the week before.
I know in a church situation it would have been held up as the Miracle of the Week because we all prayed. But somehow it was so much more to me. It was personal between me and God. It was relational between me and the family involved. It was intimate and I think because of all that, it was also very powerful.
I think that we water down our faith when we believe that the more people we get praying the better the chance of God answering. How would I feel about my relationship that I have with my son if, when he needed something or wanted something, he got all his sisters and brothers and friends and their friends to ask me for it. Wouldn't I look at him and wonder if we were somehow missing something between the two of us if he could not have the confidence that he just needed to ask.
I'm not proposing that we never share our lives with others. I just saw in this instance that those who needed to pray were actually already connected relationally and involved in the situation, therefore they prayed. If I'm having a bad day or in need of finances and a friend drops by and we talk about our lives and they decided to pray for me...I think that is great. But again that is relational.
Just still re-thinking...