Arrow prayers sent up in emergencies have a place and maybe they have saved some of us from some pretty dire straits. I was listening to the testimony of a Spitfire pilot who was shot down whilst in a dog fight. He said that when he was hit he prayed a prayer accepting that he was going to die, but moments later he saw a bright white light, and when he came round he realised that against all odds he was alive, albeit with the loss of an arm.
What struck me about this was that he wasn’t just praying to God, he was praying with God. His prayer came from a place of acceptance of God’s will for his life, whatever that was to be. In his case, God gave him the gift of life even though from a human standpoint he had no chance of living.
What we are trying to do when we pray, is to pray in the will of God, so that our prayers line up with what God wants to do. What we are trying to avoid is telling God what to do. We don’t believe that our prayers are a sheet of instructions or a to-do list for God.
Sometimes we don’t have words for what is in our heart to pray. At such times we are looking for God to place in our heart the things that are on his heart and for him to make them clearer to us. These prayers can be little more than an earnest desire or a weight in our spirit.
The important thing is that we are available by placing ourselves at God’s disposal to serve his purposes. Most of the time we don’t get to see the results or the effect of our prayers, however, there are times when there is an obvious or even instant result.
Recently I had a few hours to kill in a town centre and I prayed a prayer something along the lines of ‘Lord, have you got anything for me to do here?’ Very soon after praying that prayer, I met someone who knew me and they really needed to talk about something that was troubling them. I was thrilled that God has put me in the right place at the right time to meet that need simply because I was available.
Prayer in the will of God changes things, not necessarily in the way we want them, but even if we can’t see it at the time, Gods responses are always for our good, in the long run.
Rev. Dr Christopher Noble – Rector