“Prayer does not change the purpose of God.
But prayer does change the action of God.”
One of the things I enjoy most is sitting on the porch swing at dawn spending time in my thoughts. This morning, prayer entered my mind. I start to get butterflies in my stomach when I think of God’s power in our prayers. The coffee is a little bitter this morning and the swing seems to groan and crackle louder than usual causing calm and quiet to have withdrawal symptoms. The wind blows a cool breeze across my cheeks and I find myself lost in thought. As I began to reflect on things in my life, feelings of my children surface and in particular one special moment when I realized I had to change my thinking on prayer and fathering.
My oldest son was looking for calm in his little life. He was born with Pierre Robin Syndrome, a birth defect, which presents a child with many craniofacial deformities. At birth he was 29 weeks gestation and weighed only 1.7 pounds. We were told he would not live past his first birthday. We fought off death for many years. He died twice and was resuscitated. God had other ideas about his life; it was not dying.
The age of six was the beginning of many years of cranial facial surgeries. One Sunday before we were to leave for one such operation in Dallas a guest evangelist came to our church and spoke on the power of prayer. Afterward, an invitation was given for those who needed special prayer. We waited at the altar with heads held in reverence as the pastor moved from person to person and prayed over their need. Our time arrived, but before I could express my request, my son raised his left hand and stuck it straight up in the air. Now that may seem cute to some of you, but I assure you it wasn’t. I was in shock when I realized that all of his fingers were folded down except for one; the middle one. Yes, it stood alone in prominent display for all to see. That’s right. My son flipped the proverbial finger in the face of the evangelist; in the face of God.
I was hurt and embarrassed. Everyone saw it. How could my son perform such and act? I was waiting for lightening to strike me dead. I mean, my manhood was on trial. The failing ability to father a six-year-old child was on display for all to witness. The purpose for prayer was now unimportant. We were heathens and I was at the altar standing in judgment. I was going to hell!
The evangelist gently caressed his finger with both hands and began to pray. Wait, I didn’t tell why we are here! I thought to myself. I was astonished to hear him pray over his finger. He asked for quick and painless healing and thanked my son for his willingness to come forward.
Needless to say, I was confused. When we returned to our seat I looked at his finger. My face turned white, and the site of his hand unnerved me. His finger was smashed and his nail was about to fall off. I gave him a great big hug.
“Be united with other Christians.
A wall with loose bricks is not good.
The bricks must be cemented together.”
I began to understand a few things about prayer that morning. First, I realized that even at six my son understood prayer, and what asking for God’s healing was all about. Secondly, I came to a real understanding that sometimes we don’t truly know the hurts and pains of those we love the most. We do love them, so we want to pray for them. We intercede with our own vision of their need and pray our way. My son’s need was his finger; my need was his surgery. While I should be in prayer for his surgery, it is also my responsibility as a father to discuss prayer with my son, giving him the opportunity to express his own needs before God. At that point we can agree together in prayer. For where there are two, so stands our Lord.
You can be so much more effective when there is unity in prayer and you go before God with specific concerns. The way you pray will determine how and when the answer will come. As our world continues to change you should always pray with unified and purposeful utterance. Use the Word and His promises and, when you go before the throne, your prayer will not return void. Here is proof!
I would like for you to meet my son Blake. He is now 28 years old!
It will not return to me empty (void)
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve
the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)