I think I have been praying for the wrong thing for a long time.
I usually pray for solutions. I pray for the relationship to improve, the sickness to be healed, the hurting to be comforted, the problem to be solved.
I like action and improvement. But what if all my neat little solutions, wrapped up in a pretty package, with a bow on top, are not the point?
This morning in my quiet time I was struck by the story of the blind man in John 9. Born blind, this man's lifetime affliction had been a constant burden. People wondered how such a consequence occurred. What sin were his parents being punished for? Or did this blind man hide some horrid sin that resulted in this?
Jesus flipped all those assumptions on their collective heads. When His disciples asked Him who was at fault for his blindness, "Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:3)
Hold the presses. Stop the train. Sit down and shut up.
You mean to tell me that this man’s affliction had been planned before he was conceived, so that he would be at this exact spot, at this exact moment, with this incredible Savior, so that the Father could be displayed?
Every. Single. Problem. In. My. Life. just took on a different interpretation. What if they exist on purpose just SO THAT God can have a spotlight in my life?!
Why I Have Problems
This story changes my prayers about my own issues, as well as other’s problems.
It would be counterproductive to pray for a problem to be solved, if that very problem provided a megaphone for the Gospel.
I bet the blind man's parents prayed for their son’s sight to be restored during his youth. But just think, if those prayers had been answered, we would not have this powerful testimony of Jesus' deity. Because while Jesus had healed blind people before, healing someone BORN blind had NEVER been seen.
The shock caused by Jesus creating sight in this man that had never before existed, shook the Pharisees to the core of their hard hearts. The no-longer-blind man testified of his miracle, “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:32, NASB)
There you go- this man HAD to be born blind in order to be available to display the Lord’s power at the moment God chose to do it.
The Least Important Prayer
Asking Jesus to hurry up and resolve any issue may be the least important prayer.
It is not, not important. (Yes, I just used a double negative. But I did it on purpose, so that makes it okay.)
Healing, comfort, and solutions are good things. But in the grand eternal scheme of things, they are not as vital as proclaiming Jesus.
We are so wrapped up (and by we, I mean me) in how things feel RIGHT NOW. But this fleeting moment, no matter how painful, passes. If bad stuff happens, but no eternal fruit ripens because of it, then only loss has occurred.
But if the Gospel is put on display through the suffering, then that redemption shouts the name Jesus, and another piece of evidence of the truth of Jesus is revealed.
The Most Important Prayer
The most important prayer is encompassed in Jesus’ words, "'it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:3, NASB)
Well, there you go.
This is now what I will pray: Lord this ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever problem, sickness, trial needs prayer) is hard. Would You please cause it to be a display of Your work, power, and love? Would you show Yourself strong and loudly proclaim Your love through this? And please cause your answer to happen only when the greatest impact can occur.”
As I see the potential for each circumstance to act as a megaphone to the world, the negative transforms to powerful. Loss changes to gain. Destruction becomes redemption.
My problems spotlight the power and reality of Jesus. My difficulties are but a platform on which Jesus can shine. He can increase, and I can decrease.
Do you have issues which need prayer? Please put them in the comments below. I will ask the Lord to show Himself in technicolor lights upon the stage of your life….SO THAT the world might know the power of our Jesus.
…so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. (John 14:31a, NASB)