What We're Praying For
In my life, I've been asked to pray in a variety of different situations. Not necessarily because my prayers are somehow more "effective" but oftentimes because I live at the intersection of "pastor-as-job-title" and "you-don't-fear-speaking-in-public."
My in-laws asked me to pray because my prayers before meals were short.
My congregation asked me to pray because, well, that was my job.
My family asks me to pray because, well, that's my job - different context.
I remember gazing into the glassy eyes of a dear friend as she laid in the ICU, unable to speak and connected to more equipment than I had ever witnessed, and watched her soundless mouth form the word "Pray."
I remember praying at the bedside of an aging man in our community as he battled, again, with a list of health issues that stem from a body hard worn from labor.
I remember praying for a married couple, knowing full well as I spoke the words to God that unless something divine and completely unexpected happened I would be navigating the land-mine conversations that come with standing in the middle of divorce.
Prayer, obviously in this case, is about intercession. I'm speaking up for other people - going to God for them, not because they can't go for themselves but in another sense knowing they can't go for themselves.
They lack the words. They lack the hope. They lack. And so they ask us to pray.
One of the most transforming elements of the life of discipleship - the intentional posture we take in Christian spiritual formation - is how we learn about how good God is and how He's sufficient to take care of any challenges we have. So we need not worry, or be anxious, or lose sight of reality because of our pressing and impending tragedy.
But in prayer, especially prayers of intercession for others who are crushed or being crushed, what are we asking for? How do we honor the banquet God has spread before us as we pray for those who feel like they're scouring under the table for any crumb - any morsel of hope in the darkness as their bodies and kingdoms and constitutions fail?
This morning I believe I heard it, maybe for the first time. We pray for them, yes and amen, but we do more than that. We pray for something specific. We pray for something that is the great equalizer in the cycle of death and hopelessness that we often find ourselves standing in the midst of.
Perhaps we should simply speak it here and now, and let that be our guide:
We pray for God to be enough. Period.
We pray for healing, yes. We pray for direction, absolutely. We pray for discernment and peace and hope and we pray them with brow-sweating desperation but at the heart of those prayers is a belief that we desperately need to harness.
When we pray for others, when we pray for ourselves, we are simply praying that God would be enough. And since we know that He is (see Hebrews 13:5-6) we are really praying for one small nuance.
We pray that we would believe God is enough. And that is enough. For everything.