Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prayer Requests and Sitcoms

Dear God, here before and unto you we submit our prayer request

Each week I give time for my teens to write down things for which they would like prayer. It keeps me from having to write them all down when I ask if there are any special prayer requests, plus I don't have to rely on my memory, which is clearly storing much-needed information about my wife; birthday, anniversary, credit card usage (Yikes!).

So the teens write them down and put them in a Baggage Check box we made. We do this at the beginning and then they can focus on the discussion, knowing they have been heard. (By the way, I stole this idea, a practice I highly recommend...stealing ideas, and praying.)

Now perhaps it was a weak moment the next day at the office when I was reading through the list of prayer requests. But while praying for certain requests from my youth, I sighed, because it seemed that I had seen several of these requests before. I was discouraged that they haven't moved on from that need. After all, didn't we pray for that just last week?

It's not that the prayer requests were bad. Although I'm not sure praying for Justin Bieber to notice your comments on his videos is really something to discuss with God. It was just that these similar requests did not represent any progress.

It was then I was reminded that life is not like a television sitcom, where all our problems are neatly solved within 21 minutes, leaving time for commercial interruption.

So how do we remind ourselves that if they took the time to share a request, we should take the time to pray it forward? And how do we help them without going insane ourselves?

Offer hope. The need may appear to be the same every single day, but it won't last forever. As Mark Lowry used to say, 'It came to pass. It didn't come to stay. Either it will pass or you will.'

Offer peace. Whenever I find myself lying awake at night, I notice that I am stressed or afraid. Dreams about cookies and milkshakes rarely wake me from my slumber. But once I am awoken, my mind has this habit of shifting straight to the problems in my life. Before I know it, an hour of sleep has been lost. However, when I have remembered to pray, I fall asleep rather quickly. 

I'm not promoting prayer as a means to more sleep. (That could backfire when you're in church or a Bible study.) But clearly giving matters over to God leads to peace. 

Offer purpose. The reason we submit our requests to God is because we believe God can do better than we can. Whether it is something we continue to struggle with or something we can't figure out, by giving it to God, we're trusting He will do what we cannot.

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