I still remember that time in my life when I so powerfully learned this lesson. It was early 70s, and my younger brother was in the Air Force and stationed in Thailand.
He was going through some severe life trials during that time, and being in Thailand, he was being confronted by numerous strong temptations.
He was, at that time, still a relatively new believer. He had grown up in the same family we had all been reared in, but only recently had repented of his sins and personally believed and trusted in Jesus Christ.
I have vivid memories of picturing him way over there in Thailand – literally half-way around the world. And, there were no simple, easy ways to correspond with him. Of course, back then, we had no Skype, no Facetime, no email, no texting – and it was next to impossible to even place a long-distance phone call with any hopes of connecting with him.
So, he was way over there, and I was here. My heart broke for him, and in my prayers to God, I really reached out to him – and for him. But, even when I prayed, I still had nagging doubts whether I was helping him as much as I really wanted to – whether I was being any real benefit, doing any real good.
Then, God convicted me about what praying really is.
Did I want to be there where he was? Yes, I did, in the strongest way.
“Well,” the Father in Heaven said to me, “I AM THERE!”
Did I want to touch him in some helping, healing way? Yes, I did, with all my being.
“Well,” the Father said, “Don’t you believe that I can do what you ask Me to do? I CAN DO WHAT YOU COULDN’T DO EVEN IF YOU WERE THERE!”
It was in that context that God struck me with why we pray, to begin with – and the efficacy of our prayers to The God Who is there – and who can do what we want Him to do, what needs to be done, and what we can’t do!
“Yes, Father – I do believe! I can’t be there – but YOU ARE! I will ask You to do what I want to do – and can’t! I can’t really even do what I would like to do. I would like to touch his heart, where it hurts. I would like to administer healing – but really, I can’t do any of those things. BUT YOU CAN!”
I constructed these images in my mind of beams being sent up to a communications satellite, and then sent back down to earth where they had been directed – even like a conversation or message that can be sent anywhere on the face of the earth.
You know that every specific location on earth has “coordinates” so that any spot can be targeted. That’s how our GPS devices work – they can identify and locate any spot on the earth and lead us to it. There are Global Positioning Satellites that can target in on any spot on the face of our planet. GOD CAN DO THAT, TOO! That’s what we are doing when we pray: we are asking God in His Omnipresence and Omniscience to BE WHERE I CAN’T BE! God’s Presence and knowledge is everywhere.
And – not only does God know and have access to the “coordinates” of every human being, but God also has access to and sovereignty over the “coordinates” to every human being’s conscience and heart!
- Read Psalm 139, where the Psalmist confesses that God knows when we stand up, sit down, and even every word we say before we say it!
- Read 2 Chronicles 6.30, where Solomon stands in awe of God’s knowledge of our hearts: “…since You know each heart, for You alone know the human heart!”
- Read Hebrews 4.12: “For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”
Do you see that? God KNOWS not only our physical whereabouts…and is THERE – but He also has authority and access to get into every human being’s heart and change whatever He wills to change.
God can change our circumstances and whatever is going on in our “outside” world just by willing it DONE – and He can also change our thoughts, our ways of thinking, our values, and our hearts! God can take away the heart of rebellion, darkness, and unbelief – and give instead a living heart of sweet surrender, the Light of Life, and the faith to believe!
“ONLY SAY THE WORD!”
I go back so often to that striking request made to Jesus by the Gentile Roman centurion for his beloved servant.
“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” ~ Matthew 8.6-8 [emphasis added]
Jesus was not physically there [in His incarnate human body], where the centurion’s servant was – but HE WAS THERE BY THE POWER OF HIS OWN WORD! So, Jesus sent His Word – and it was done!
And, Jesus did what the poor impotent centurion could not do – just like He DOES for us what our poor, impotent human abilities can’t do!
That is what we are doing when we pray to our Sovereign God – we are calling on Him to “only say the word” and it will be done!
That is what prayer does – and that is why we pray. So, let’s quit saying, “Well, the least I can do is pray for you.” NO – the best you can do is PRAY TO THE GOD WHO CAN!
WE PRAY BECAUSE…
GOD IS WHERE WE CAN’T BE & GOD DOES WHAT WE CAN’T DO!