Working for trypraying you come to realise the importance of letting others know that communication with God is a daily possibility – that it’s not just for religious people or church. Far from Christianity being boring, a life of prayer sets the stage for a daily drama – ‘what will God do next?’
There’s a risk in telling friends or family that you’re praying, because what if your prayer isn’t answered? At least not in the way you or they had hoped. Your friends might think you’re wasting your time.
I’ve experienced amazing moments of answered prayer, as well as times when it seems like there is no answer at all – and I’m learning to be more honest about both.
Prayer can change hopeless situations
While I was researching trypraying‘s new booklet for prisoners, I realised that the men’s stories were so powerful, because their prayers had been answered from a position of extreme hopelessness.
When Mo was thrown into a police cell, all his hope was gone. It was the same for John and Shane when they began to understand the reality of the horrific crimes they had committed.
At their lowest point, each of these violent criminals did something unimaginable to them. They tried praying. They cried out to Jesus to help them.
When they prayed, amazing things happened – Mo became a believer and was sent to jail as a new-born Christian. Shane and John changed from hate-filled hard men, to Jesus-lovers: hearts melted by grace. They couldn’t stop telling others about what Jesus had done for them – and many people have come to know and love Jesus because of their stories.
Becoming more real
Being honest about seemingly hopeless situations opens the way for good conversations with the sceptical. If me or my friends or family go through hard times and I try to minimise the pain – I might as well be from another planet. People can see you putting on a front… like a cult-member walking around smiling, even while your compound is burning to the ground.
If we are more open during the tough times, it means that when we experience the miraculous, people are more inclined to listen.
Recently, the mums at the school gates listened as I shared the awful prognosis that my (otherwise healthy) 82 year-old father had received damage to a cranial nerve meaning that he had lost the ability to swallow and would be tube-fed for six months, if not forever, with not even a drop of water to pass his lips. While I didn’t hide my distress at this news, I also made it known that we had faith as a family, and people around the world were praying for him.
6 weeks later he was back eating and drinking, on a normal diet, and pottering in his garden. Some of them said the NHS must have got the prognosis wrong, while others (funnily enough the nurse in the group) were astonished. His situation could have gone the other way, but if I hadn’t shared with them at all, they wouldn’t have been touched by this incredible answer to prayer. A tiny seed sown.
I’m praying for you
If we can be more talkative about our journey as a follower of Jesus, with its ups and downs, it becomes more meaningful when we say to a friend or family member during a difficult time, ‘I’m praying for you’. They are less likely be taken as empty words.
We can also suggest to them to try praying themselves, and they will know it’s not being said out of a sense of religious duty, but from a desire to see the power and love of God intervene in an amazing way in their lives.