Comments on Prayer Let me start by commenting on the decisions made by World Vision regarding the hiring of homosexual people in their organization and then retracting that decision two days later. The story in Christianity Today provoked some thought on my part about how we pray and what the world thinks about prayer.
First, let me set the stage for my thoughts. World Vision, after a long period of prayer and discussion related to this subject, made a decision to come out publicly with the notice that they would hire homosexuals under certain conditions. Two days later, as a result of pressure from their constituent body, they rescinded their decision. Thousands of people who supported their programs for helping children around the world had withdrawn their support. The World Vision people recanted and returned to their former position.
My thoughts are not about what’s right or wrong with regard to the decision, but how we use prayer to affirm or disaffirm our positions. When we pray, how do we discern whether the leading we are getting as a result of that prayer is God speaking or our “mother in the attic” of our minds? How do the politics of going along in order to get along impact our decisions?
Some years ago a person interviewed for a staff position in my organization. He prayed about it and felt God was calling him to serve with us in New York. He was a good person and met the qualifications so I hired him. The process of moving him and his family from their previous location was costly for us but worth it. The verbal contract we had was a commitment for two years. He moved in and settled into his new home and position. After about six months he came to me one day and asked for a private meeting. We met and he told me God was talking to him and he felt he was called to another position in another town. Don’t blame God and prayer if the reason is really that your wife doesn’t like the neighborhood or is too far from her family.
I admit that I was quite ready to question his calling to move again after a lot of expense and a short time with our organization. We often hear people say, “I prayed about it and God told me.” I really was not happy with the choice of my staff member except for the lesson I learned about how fragile the answers to prayer are if we are not listening closely to the voice of God. I don’t know what the greater plan of God was for that moment, but it was tough for me to understand. How often in our lives are we using prayer as an excuse to make decisions that may or may not be within His will and purpose?
If through prayer we are led to the conviction to do something, should we not be willing and ready to pay the price for doing it. If you have read my book, “More Than Volunteers,” there is an illustration that deals with decision making. In our heads are two boxes that dominate our decision making process. In one box is the value that will be experienced as a result of the decision. The other is the price that will be paid as a result of the decision. When the value is greater than the price, we make the decision to experience the value. If the price tag is greater, we remain tied to the price tag, forfeiting the value. We may lose our constituency. We may lose our job. We may lose our position in the social order. Either way, there are consequences.
We must decide which consequence bears the greatest reward. Prayer should always result in a person following principle and not money, value and not price.
There are many devout prayer warriors out there. We hold these people in high respect for the hours they spend lifting up the petitions of need before the Lord. Matthew 7:7 tells us, “”Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I believe that Scripture indicates there are many levels in the process of seeing the answer to our prayers.
Prayer is the connection of communication with God who has revealed himself both in and through his Son Jesus Christ, and translated into truth by the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
What’s in a Prayer?
By Charles S. Rigby
Have you ever stopped to think when you pray,
As to how you would respond if you were
On the other end of your request?
Often we throw our prayers up there
In hope that someone will answer
We offer up the most extensive list of
Undoable expressions and personal desires
While giving no consideration as to how we would
Respond if we were answered.
The doable youable exposition of
Dishing and dissing pours out of our souls
In our attempt to manipulate sovereignty
According to our personal goals.
When, in our desire to stake out our turf
Do we stop and realize that at all times
We stand in the presence of God
Who already knows and cares about our need?
God is patiently waiting for us to
Realize we can’t make heaven alone.
He is ready to help us and guide us
With directions which can reassure us that
Someday we will meet Him and He will then
Point us toward the place He has prepared for us
At home with Him in Heaven.
I am continually challenged as to how to carry on my conversations with God. Dr. Robert Cook, known to many for his faithful years of service, used to say, “Pray your way through the day.” That’s what we need to do. Live so close to God that we talk through each step of every day. Let’s live so that we can feel his presence and release his power in our lives. Appreciate God the Father as creator. Never allow the light of redemption through Jesus Christ to be lost for a moment. Embrace the Holy Spirit as guide into all the truth. The power of our prayer will take on new depth of meaning. The power of His presence will grow as we draw closer to Jesus Christ. More of what He wants to do through each of us will be revealed and valued as we live out our Christian faith.
Presently, as the town council of a little town of Greece on the outskirts of Rochester, New York waits for the Supreme Court of the United States to decide whether they can have prayer to start their meetings each session, let us resolve that no law of man can ever keep us from talking to God. Pray that the two women who brought the law suit against public prayer will someday be made aware that prayer is not a religious ritual but a conversation with God.
Just a closing thought related to World Vision’s decision and retraction. Whether the value of feeding and caring for thousands of children was worth the retraction of their decision to hire homosexuals became their challenge. Their decision seemed to boil down to determining where the organization needed to stand in order to accomplish the work it had been doing for decades in touching millions of lives of children with life saving help. Keep in mind that the constituents of World Vision and the people of other nations in which they work have varied views on this issue.
Prayer is a conversation with a force beyond yourself. Stop and realize that every breath you breathe is given to enable the human spirit to respond to life. When prayer leads you to stand for the value of what you are doing, then never compromise value for the cost you will need to pay for it. Grace may be sufficient but it never compromises truth on the altar of convenience. Seek truth. Stand for the values that are foundational for carrying out God’s purpose in your life and eternity will be your reward.