I’ve been praying a lot lately – for so many people, so many things. Friends in financial crisis, friends waging war against ravaging diseases, friends struggling to focus in the midst of difficulties. Our country, our leaders, the innocent caught in the cross-fire. Those I love, those I know, and those I have yet to meet. I’ve fallen asleep whispering prayers and been awakened in the middle of the night by cries to Heaven. Prayer has moved from a last-ditch “the only thing I can do” position to “the most important thing I can do.” And I’ve been asking people to join me in the journey – most recently for a precious friend who is battling cancer.
My sweet Alisha sent this message by Max Lucado to me, as a gentle reminder to stay the course, even when the road looks dark. As I sit and listen to Mindy Smith’s “Down in Flames,” which reflects on difficult days and saving hope, I rest in the power of prayer. Thanks ‘Lish for the reminder.
When You Speak, God Hears
by Max Lucado
Those who pray keep alive the watch fires of faith. For the most part we don’t even know their names. Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. His name is not important. He is important not because of who he was, but because of what he did.
He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His friend was sick, and Jesus could help, and someone needed to go to Jesus, so someone went. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. Some brought food; others provided treatment; still others comforted the family. Each role was crucial. Each person was helpful, but no one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.
John writes: “So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick'” (John 11:3, emphasis mine).
Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded.
In the economy of heaven, the prayers of saints are a valued commodity. John the apostle would agree. He wrote the story of Lazarus and was careful to show the sequence: The healing began when the request was made.
The phrase the friend of Lazarus used is worth noting. When he told Jesus of the illness, he said, “The one you love is sick.” The power of the prayer, in other words, does not depend on the one who makes the prayer but on the one who hears the prayer.
We can and must repeat the phrase in manifold ways. “The one you love is tired, sad, hungry, lonely, fearful, depressed.” The words of the prayer vary, but the response never changes. The Savior hears the prayer. He silences heaven so he won’t miss a word. The Master heard the request. Jesus stopped whatever he was doing and took note of the man’s words. This anonymous courier was heard by God.
John’s message is critical. You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, the attendants turn to you to hear your voice. No need to fear that you will be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God–and he listens.
Intently. Carefully. The prayers are honored as precious jewels. Purified and empowered, the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord. “The smoke from the incense went up from the angel’s hand to God” (Rev. 8:4). Incredible. Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God.
One call and heaven’s fleet appears. Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven.
You are the someone of God’s kingdom. Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don’t need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!
When you speak, Jesus hears.
And when Jesus hears, the world is changed.
All because someone prayed.