This year has so far been rather challenging, to say the least, for a lot of people. What with the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, the strict and idiotic lockdowns that came as a result of it, the social and racial unrest that has led to wanton destruction of property and numerous deaths, all leading up to an election which if won by Trump will almost certainly lead the Left to… continue doing the things they’ve been doing so the threat of riots is not quite as effective as it otherwise would have been.
One silver lining in this dark cloud of a year, however, is what I believe to be the potential revival of Christian America. It is often at our lowest point that we seek the Lord for comfort, and while some might be angry at God for allowing these things to happen, many more will come to God in search of refuge from the evil one. Many more people will begin praying to God, or pray more often, that their current situation – both personal ones and larger, social ones – will turn around. As a guest pastor for a church I often watch online said, “If it’s not good, God’s not done.”
This has not been a good year for many of us, but since it’s not good, that means that God’s not done. Good things will come out of all of this. We may not see it now, or understand how it could possibly come to be, but even while we don’t see a way, God most assuredly does.
Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of people who won’t change no matter what. Who will refuse to acknowledge God’s existence (for the most part; they acknowledge Him when they have something to be angry with Him about) and who will foolishly even declare themselves an enemy of God (as I have met one such fellow on Twitter who has outright said that he would kill God if he met Him, as though he had any power at all to stand against the omnipotent One).
Such people will reject and even mock prayer. We often see it whenever a tragic event like a shooting or natural disaster occurs, there are those who offer prayers and those who mock those who offer prayers, declaring it to be a waste of time and effort which accomplishes absolutely nothing and that we must seek evidence-based solutions to the problem.
The thing about prayer is that it absolutely works and multiple studies show it is an evidence-based solution to problems.
For example, one study of older adults found that “the negative effects of financial problems on health were significantly reduced among those who regularly prayed for others,” according to National Review.
In other words, the people who regularly prayed, and prayed for other people, were noticeably less affected by the strains of financial problems than those who did not pray. When you turn your trust and faith over to God, you recognize that your job is not your income source, the economy is not your income source, but God is your income source.
And hallelujah for that because of the following passage:
Luke 11:9-13: “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
One could say: “Well, Freddie, the context is clearly about the Holy Spirit, not about finances or other things.”
And one would be half right.
The context of the passage is clear: Jesus is talking about salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit. Indeed, whomever asks for forgiveness, they will be forgiven. The Lord is merciful to such people. But recognize that God doesn’t only give His children the Holy Spirit. In the rhetorical questions, Jesus talks about parents giving their children fish or eggs if they ask of it. While, obviously, human parents cannot give the Holy Spirit and Jesus needed an analogy that would be understandable to His audience, God also gives us many other blessings. The proof that God is happily willing to give other things to His children is in the fact that He DOES and we express our thanks to Him as a result.
Why else would we give thanks to God for, say, getting a new job or a promotion, or doing well on a test, or finding the love of someone’s life, if God only gave His children the Holy Spirit? When we ask God for things, a number of things can happen:
1. God gives us exactly what we want.
2. God doesn’t give us what we want because what we want is not what we should have, or God is protecting us from something.
3. Or, God doesn’t give us what we want because He has something even better in store, giving us more than what we even asked for.
God is delighted in giving us things that we ask for when those things help us achieve our God-given destiny. So when praying to God, He is even more delighted by the faith and trust that is placed on Him by us.
We pray not merely to ask for things like children asking for a new toy. We also pray for help, we pray for clarity, we pray for strength, for wisdom and understanding, as well as for others that they might get those things.
And studies have shown, like I mentioned earlier, that prayer is extremely helpful. One research study found that prayer is of great psychological benefit to those who perceive God to be a loving God. They also found that, on the flipside, it caused anxiety and distress for those who perceive God to be distant and uncaring.
Which is why it’s important to also know who God is. I remember seeing on social media a post that quoted someone about how many (too many, according to that person) Christians view God as all-loving, forgetting the wrathful side of God. The thing about that is, while God is wrathful, He is only wrathful to sinfulness which was not forgiven by Him; which was not asked to be forgiven.
God doesn’t express His wrath against His children. His children are forgiven! His wrath is reserved for those who are unrepentant and unsaved – those who deny Christ consciously or subconsciously.
In understanding who God is, putting one’s trust and faith in Him, and having been saved by His Son, prayer is a great reliever of stress and it helps people spiritually, psychologically, and often times, physically.
Like I said, there are a number of studies that show such things, and that National Review article I mentioned earlier talks about many of them.
I hope that in reading this, you will come to better understand (if you haven’t already) just how important prayer is. In terms of both helping people feel better, such as in a group of cancer patients who were instructed to pray focusing on thankfulness and concern for others and were found to have the least symptoms of depression, and in terms of better accomplishing tasks, such as a study which found that those who prayed for 10 minutes about a personal life issue (even those who are less religious) were better able to accomplish focus-driven tasks than those who were instructed to think about the personal issues or were distracted with a puzzle, prayer is a magnificent and efficient way to solve problems.
When ignorant people criticize prayer, they don’t realize that prayer actually has value and effectiveness which has been backed by empirical evidence.
Prayer is extremely helpful, not only for our own souls but also for life in general. I firmly believe that if we prayed more as a country, things would be a lot better than they are.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
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