My study group just finished reading the book, “Prayer, Does it Make a Difference?” by Philip Yancy. When we decided to study it, I was apprehensive. I’m still a pretty green Christian and know I have such a long way to go before I’d believe I have a strong and solid prayer life. I have periodic bouts of strong devotion, dedicated time and a feeling of closeness. Wow, those times are wonderful and I think “this is it! I’m in the groove now!” And then, something rattles my schedule, or dedication and I’m off the wagon again. So knowing all this, I was a little fearful to begin an in-depth study of prayer!
How wrongly placed my fear was. As He has shown me over and over, God never puts me into a situation or places a challenge in front of me that is worthy of any fear. This study took us through many twists and turns of the prayer lives of numerous people with a thread throughout that was so easy to connect with. While many of us focused on different aspects in our study time, the overall message was clear. God wants a relationship with us and prayer is His gift of ongoing, intimate, active conversation with Him. I really believe prayer is more for our benefit than His.
All of us shared our struggles with finding the time, uncertainty over what to pray for and how to address some really tough questions raised in the book. But we all took away that prayer is necessary and beneficial to the pray-er because it brings a sense of peace and shifts focus away from us to our God, the God of all – where it ought to be! Yancy talks about having a “view from above” that helps keeps life in perspective with God and His plan. When we try to see things from God’s bigger perspective, it puts things in line a little clearer. His analogy involved peering down from atop a fourteener in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. There’s nothing like a view from 14,000 feet to help put us in perspective.
The one revelation of this study that is really sticking with me is what I call the undercurrent – that inner conversation we all have ongoing constantly. Focusing that conversation God-ward instead of just to myself has been something that I’ve been doing for a while without even realizing it. It’s become very natural to continually have an inner conversation with God over the everyday stuff of life – the challenges, struggles and more importantly, the blessings. “Thank you” comes into play so often because He has so richly blessed my life.
I have a long way to go, I know that for sure. But, after this study, I know that I am not alone in the struggle and God loves me regardless. He is there whenever and wherever I approach Him.
I will end with one excerpt from the book. It is a beautiful testament to the Maker of all and how much He loves us.
Love God with all your heart, Jesus said. Listen to your life: to its passion, its dreams and disappointments, its tedium as well as its drama. It came to you as a gift and each day, too, unravels as a gift. God wants an invitation to share in its every detail.
- Philip Yancy, Prayer