My wife got up early and braved the cold, the rain and the long lines at the grocery story this morning. And she was victorious!! She came back with the oh so coveted toilet paper. And as our bounty of paper products and cleaning supplies were laid out on our counter — and we cheered with great celebration — it occurred to me that this season of scarcity has brought us a great opportunity. We didn’t know we needed it, but it may be one of the best things that could happen to us.
For the past decade I’ve been wrestling with the subject of prayer. What is prayer? Do our prayers affect change? And especially, the James 5 idea of “the prayer of faith.” Growing up, many of my leaders either taught or inferred that God will heal you — implying you just have to believe and have enough faith. Now that I have more experience and have had time to consider it, I believe they were trying to teach us to pray with confidence and persistence — two attributes that are necessary for prayer. Of course, if the healing doesn’t occur, what do you do then? This was my hang-up.
Do you ever read the Bible and think, what if?
What if Peter hadn’t denied Jesus three times?
What if Paul hadn’t stood his ground so firmly for a grace only salvation message for the Gentiles?
What if Abraham didn’t take Hagar into his bed? What if he didn’t have Ishmael as a son?
There is another story in 1 Samuel 13 that I think “what if”? The battle lines were drawn with the Philistines. Their army was mammoth and the Israelite army was starting to quake in their sandals. Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices to God and seek Him. Instead of waiting, Saul became anxious and offered the sacrifice himself.