I love to have thoughts I‘ve never had before–most of the time anyway. And in 63 years I’ve thought a lot of thoughts. I had a new one the other day but I’m not sure it’s right.
Before and after my wife’s recent surgery, hundreds or (probably) thousands of friends and family prayed for her. Normally, I think that one person praying in faith would have done the job, so it seems to me there ought to be a surplus of prayers stored up somewhere.
“Wouldn’t it be great,” I asked my wife, “If every time we had a need now, we could just take some prayers out of that prayer stockpile that was left over? Wouldn’t even have to pray ourselves. Just open up the door to the storeroom, take out a few prayers and “voila”—problem over.”
She wasn’t convinced that it worked like that. Me either, but it was a thought I’d never had so I was happy. Actually, I do believe our prayers get stored up, but I’m not the boss over how they are used. Because when you pray, you don’t pray to me but to the One who can do something about it.
“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” (Rev. 5:8 KJV)
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev. 8:3, KJV)
What does that mean? Honestly, I’m not sure. But, what I think it means is that our prayers aren’t wasted. Every one of them is carefully conserved before God and they do make a difference in the world, in our lives and in the lives of the people we pray for.
God sent a message to Cornelius, that tough soldier with a heart to seek God. “The angel replied, ‘Your prayers and your deeds of charity have gone up to Heaven and are remembered before God.’” (Acts 10:5, J.B. Phillips)
And you know what else prayer does? It moves me closer to God. Really, I suspect prayer is as much about me as it is about persuading God that He really ought to answer my prayer. When I’m close to Him that’s when hope starts to grow, when peace spreads through me, when joy springs up, when healing pours over me like warm oil.
And being prayed for makes you a lot more serious when other people need prayer. The other morning I was praying for a young Iranian lady who struggles with mental illness and a tough home situation. I told the Lord, “If I can make a withdrawal on that stockpile of prayers that was prayed for us, I’d like to take some out for this young lady. Lord, she needs You so, she needs your help so much.”
I really don’t think the Lord took anything out of a stockpile. I think He heard my prayers then and there.
I don’t know how it all works. I just know it works. Prayer and God’s Word are a big part of the foundation of how we know Him.
So, just do it!
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” – WASHINGTON IRVING