NOVEMBER 3, 2014
The Power of a Simple Prayer
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers." Philippians 4:6 (TLB)
Want to see a father's face ashen or hear a mother gasp? Then sit nearby as they discover three words on the box of a new toy: "Some assembly required." What follows are several late night hours of squeezing "A" into "B," bolting "D" into "F," and hoping no one notices if steps 4, 5 and 6 are skipped altogether.
Parents want a gift for their child. What they get is a project — sometimes a project for life.
"Some assembly required." It's not the most welcome sentence, but it's an honest one. Marriage licenses should include those words, in large print. Job contracts should state them in bold letters. Babies should exit the womb with a toe tag: "Some assembly required."
Life is a gift, albeit disassembled. It comes in pieces and sometimes falls to pieces. Part A doesn't always fit Part B. The struggle seems large and inevitably, something is missing.
It's such a common problem. Who among us doesn't have an area of life that isn't working? How do you respond when the pieces don't fit? In frustration? In anger? In prayer?
I'd like to say I always respond in prayer. The truth? I am a recovering prayer wimp. I doze off when I pray. My thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again. If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, then I am afflicted.
But I also know there's power in prayer, even simple prayers. Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew this too.
Maybe you've heard the story. A couple thousand years ago there was a common wedding in Cana. The bride wasn't the daughter of an emperor. The groom wasn't a prince. Apart from one detail, the event would've been lost in time. But we remember it because Jesus was on the guest list.
While Jesus was there, the wedding party ran out of wine. Enter Mary, mother of Jesus. For my nickel, she appears too seldom in Scripture. After all, who knew Jesus better than she did? So, on the rare occasion she speaks, we perk up. "The mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine'" (John 2:3b, NKJV).
Consider this prayer of Mary. The pieces didn't fit, so she took the problem to Jesus. Mary wasn't bossy. She didn't say: "Jesus, they are out of wine. So, here is what I need. Go down to the grove at the corner. Accelerate the growth of some Bordeaux grapes. Turn them into wine." She didn't try to fix the problem.
Nor was she critical. "If only they had planned better, Jesus. People just don't think ahead. What is society coming to?"
Nor did she blame Jesus. "What kind of Messiah are you? If you truly were in control, this never would have happened!"
She didn't blame herself. "It's all my fault, Jesus. Punish me. I failed as a friend. Now, the wedding is ruined. The marriage will collapse. I am to blame."
None of this. Mary didn't whine about the wine. She just stated the problem.
Then, "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Whatever he says to you, do it'" (John 2:4-5, NKJV).
Apparently Jesus had no intention of saving the wedding banquet. This wasn't the time nor the place He had planned to reveal his power. But then Mary entered the story: Mary, someone He loved, with a genuine need.
So what did He do? Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots with water, and that water became wine the entire party enjoyed.
Problem presented. Prayer answered. Crisis avoided. All because Mary entrusted the problem to Jesus. Her simple request prompted a divine response!
Like me, you might think if you take your problems to Jesus every time you have one, you'll talk to Jesus all day long. I think that's the point. After all, the writer of Philippians reminds us in our key verse, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers" (Philippians 4:6).
When life doesn't fit, it's easy to worry or be critical or try to fix it. But let's let Mary be our model. She took her problem to Jesus and she left it there. She stated her problem simply, presented it faithfully and trusted Him humbly.
Father, You are good. I need help to lay my problems at Your feet. Help my friends to do the same. Thank You for hearing my cries for help and being faithful to respond in love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 6:18, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)
If you've ever doubted whether your prayers matter or how to worry less and pray more, consider getting a copy of Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado.
Today's devotion talked about being a "prayer wimp." Can you relate? If so, consider joining our next P31 Online Bible Study beginning Nov. 17 based on Max's book, Before Amen. Click here to learn more, register for this four-week study or sign up for the Conference Call Series (including a call with Max!).
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In what areas of your life do you find yourself reclaiming problems even after you've given them up?
What one thing do you need to trust Jesus with today?
© 2014 by Max Lucado. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.
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Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 03 November 2014.