Wow. There's a real lesson for me in those two verses. Don't get me wrong, I do not think that I am a terrible worrier but I have known the joy of occasionally experiencing times in my life when all worry truly is cast aside ... when God is at the center, top, bottom, inside and outside ... and He displaces everything else. Those are powerful times and I so want to always be in that light!
I have, for several weeks, been making my way through Philip Yancey's book on Prayer. For some reason, I sat it down for a couple of weeks and didn't read from it. I picked it up and starting reading again the past couple of days. It is such an enjoyable and insightful book. Yancey writes with such pure honesty and clarity. I think that all of his readers must feel like he is someplace inside their heads. His words resonate that powerfully and clearly.
My prayer life often comes in fits and starts or snorts and spurts or something like that. I have never really been a big one for prayers of petition. Yancey and other authors have made it clear to me, though, that God wants to hear our desires, our frustrations, and our cries but it's still just, well, uncomfortable for me to pray for myself. I am working on it though.
One thing I have found, though, is that as I utter prayers of intercession on behalf of others, I come so much closer to God myself and, through those prayers, I really develop a better understanding of myself and the world around me.
Near the end of his book, Yancey writes a lot about praying for those folks who we may not particularly care for. I guess you could call it praying for your enemies. I try to practice that, not in the way of praying that those folks will change to my way of thinking but rather that I will understand them better and figure out how to best relate to and communicate with them. As Yancey says, we all come to God "uniquely faulted" (or something like that), meaning that we have all sinned -- none of us is perfect. God died for my "enemy's" sins just as He died for mine. He loves that person just as much as He loves me. When my prayers reflect that, my heart cannot help but soften. I will develop a better understanding of that person and out of that will come greater peace in my life at the very least if not mutual healing and reconciliation in the relationship.
I have been praying a lot lately for a couple of friends of mine who have been accused of some not-so-nice crimes. One friend has been in jail for over two years now and is awaiting a new trial. The other friend is facing a trial later this year. Regardless of the exact situations involved, praying for these folks has helped to show me the importance of being supportive and reaching out to them. It has also led me to pray for their accusers.
Okay, so I am at the end of what I wanted to write but I am really not at a concluding point. Why don't they teach you in college how to deal with situations like this?
In any event, as we enter the new year, I am committing myself to more prayer. I have come to realize that prayer is not so much about seeking some magical divine intervention as it is about seeking God's direction and will for my life, seeking His divine work through me. That makes prayer very worthwhile.