Piles of Prayers

Views from Bald Mountain in the High Uinta Mountains of Utah
Views from Bald Mountain in the High Uinta Mountains of Utah

In my experience of the Christian faith, it’s not uncommon to attend prayer services.  Sometimes they’re in person and sometimes they’re online.  Sometimes it’s just because I’m driving across the country and I happen to be within an hour or few of a revival center, so I’ll stop in.  (That’s always special!)  But the prayers seem to frequently revolve around the same general topics: our country, healing, evangelism, etc.

Curving walls of the ruins of Pueblo del Arroyo, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
Curving walls of the ruins of Pueblo del Arroyo, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Those topics are good things to pray for.  We are called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:2), for each other’s healing (James 5:16), and for workers to spread the gospel (for example, Matthew 9:38, Ephesians 6:19-20).  Many people with the gift of faith or healing or evangelism have spent their entire lives praying for these things.

Views from Duck Pass, Inyo National Forest, California
Views from Duck Pass, Inyo National Forest, California

Sometimes it can seem like we pray for the same things over and over.  It becomes almost rote – sort of the eyes glaze over and we pray the same words again and again.  Jesus warned us against praying over and over and over in hopes that it will make God more willing to answer our prayers – “And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

Little waterfall in Barnes Gully, New York
Little waterfall in Barnes Gully, New York

Still, God calls us to ask and keep asking.  Jesus “told them a parable to show that they must always pray and not be discouraged… will not God surely see that justice is done to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, and will he delay toward them?  I tell you that he will see to it that justice is done for them soon!” (Luke 18:1; 7-8).  And again in Matthew 7:11, “So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who keep on asking him!”

Black Butte from the trail to Hidden Valley, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California
Black Butte from the trail to Hidden Valley, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California

And so we pray for the same things – safety for loved ones; for health; for our leaders; for revival; for missionaries; for all of God’s people and for all people (which is also in scripture; see Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Timothy 2:1).  Even when we don’t see the answers to our prayers, we keep on praying.

The Snowy Range from the Libby Flats Observation Tower, Wyoming
The Snowy Range from the Libby Flats Observation Tower, Wyoming

I like to think of our unanswered prayers as a kind of seed placed in a pile.  Every time we pray for that specific topic, another seed is added to the pile.  By the time the answer comes, the pile may have grown to the size of a mountain – and those seeds will grow a harvest far beyond what could have been quickly grown if the answer to the prayer had come immediately.

Bearded wheat, Howell Living History Farm, New Jersey
Bearded wheat, Howell Living History Farm, New Jersey

Don’t give up in prayer.  Even if you’ve prayed for a loved one 200 times, it’s all right to pray one more time.  You don’t have to babble on and on – God hears you the first time, and the tenth time, and the one-hundred-and-sixty-fourth time.  But with your prayers you are storing up those seeds to bring forth the harvest when God brings about what He promised and what you have earnestly prayed for.

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