Pray Like Everything Depends on God
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray." James 5:13a (NIV)
Detroit Metropolitan Airport. 10:16 p.m. My connecting flight was cancelled, the terminal was deserted and my luggage was nowhere to be seen.
I explained my situation to the lone customer service representative at the counter and tried not to whimper. "How long will it take to retrieve my bag?"
He shrugged. "Could be 30 minutes. Could be two hours. Could be never."
Never? "How can —?"
He flipped up his hand, stopping my protest in its tracks. "I'll put in a request, ma'am. But it's only a request. Not a promise."
I sank onto a seat facing the empty baggage carousel, discouraged and out of sorts. Now what? Everything I needed — namely, fresh clothing — was in that bag. As it was, I'd be arriving three hours late for my morning presentation in Oklahoma City. No way could I show up in the Eau-de-Sweat outfit I was wearing that night.
If ever there was a perfect time to call on the Lord for help, this was it. Did I make that wise move? Oh, no. I called my husband. It was late at night, and the man was 350 miles away. Still, couldn't he do something?
After listening to my moaning and groaning for several minutes, Bill said, "I'm sorry, honey. I'll pray."
"Pray?" I whined. "That's not enough!"
Not enough? Clearly, I was exhausted and frustrated and at my wit's end. Caught up in my situation, I'd forgotten what I knew to be true: Prayer is the best thing we can do, and sometimes the only thing we can do.
Saint Augustine famously said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." My problem is I usually focus on the second part, work, and forget the most important step: pray. Too often I turn in every direction, looking for answers, instead of turning to the One who has all the answers I'll ever need.
That night in Detroit, I dutifully followed my husband's example. Please, Lord. I know it's just a suitcase. But if You could send it my way, I'd be grateful.
Without warning, the baggage carousel sprang to life. A single bag dropped into view, then slowly began heading in my direction.
It was small. It was black. My familiar Mickey Mouse tag dangled from the handle. A here-comes-the-happy-ending soundtrack swelled inside me as I stood, smiling through my tears. Thank you, Lord. And please forgive me for not praying first.
His response was gentle, but firm. "I created the entire universe, Liz. Could you not trust Me with one bag?"
I knew the truth. So did He. Not entirely, Lord. Although I might say with all my heart, "As for me, I trust in the Lord" (Psalm 31:6b), my prayer life — or the lack of it — says otherwise.
Here's what I need to remember. Maybe you do too:
- God not only hears our requests, He promises to answer them — in His perfect timing, in His perfect way. Jesus tells us, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8b), then reminds us, "Ask and it will be given to you" (Matthew 7:7a).
- God already knows our needs, yet He expects us to ask. He wants us to pray. When we put our needs into words, we put our needs into His hands. We let go. We trust. "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this" (Psalm 37:5).
Was I glad to have my luggage back? You bet. Clean clothes and clean skin make me a happy woman.
Was I equally glad to have God's tender admonishment to pray first, not last? You bet. A clean heart makes me an even happier woman.
What I learned? Pray as though everything depended on God ... because it does.
Lord, help me remember to pray first and last. Help me trust You to know my needs and meet them according to Your grand plan. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 5:16b, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)
Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
God has the power to put the right solution in motion, to calm an anxious heart, to make a crooked path straight. No one cares about your troubles more than the One who loves you most. No one.
Today, when a problem arises (and it will), pray first. Ask God for what you need, then trust Him to provide.