In Nehemiah 1:6-7, when he found out that after the exile the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and its gates burned, Nehemiah wrote, “When I heard about these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants.’”
After 24-year-old Farmville Central and ECU graduate, London Godley was critically injured and possibly left paralyzed from the waist down in a car wreck in late August, some of us were wondering exactly how we should pray. Should we ask God for a miracle? If she were my daughter, there was no doubt I would be praying for one. Why shouldn’t I pray the same for this sweet child of God?
The Old and New Testament are replete with examples of God intervening on behalf of his children. In these stories we learn of God as mighty and omnipotent. God can accomplish anything he chooses. The natural and spiritual worlds are under his control. Jesus wowed the crowds with his healing. Some of the sick had faith but others had no faith, yet people from both groups were healed. Not every sick person in the vicinity of Jesus was made physically well. Most have us have witnessed some Christians being physically healed and others not. Of course, healing comes in many forms. At times it is through the advances of modern medicine and other times through obvious divine intervention. God should be praised for both. We know that the results do not depend on a lack of or presence of sin or on our own merits. There is no formula by which we can manipulate God into doing what we ask. Although we could never understand exactly how God works, we are assured that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
What does the Bible say about prayer? With the parable of the persistent widow Jesus taught that his disciples should always pray and not give up. Jesus said that we should not make a show of our prayers, but rather, speak to God in humility and sincerity. He gave us The Lord’s Prayer as an example. At the Garden of Gethsemani, Jesus poured out his heart by saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) James 5:16 admonishes us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
At the prayer vigil for London and her family at First Baptist Church each person was instructed to take a small stone from the baskets that were being distributed. Each stone was to serve as a reminder of the God who had been at work throughout history. Young David, with only a sling and a few stones, but great confidence in a powerful God, faced the giant. Bill Flowers so beautifully told us to hold those stones as we prayed for London. “We pray to the same God that David prayed to when he defeated Goliath.”