A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream about one of my friends who doesn't know Jesus. In the dream, he told me, "Taylor! I see the fruitlessness of my life and I want Jesus now!" I hadn't talked to this friend in over a year nor had I been praying for him. But, when I woke up, I knew God was after him and that I was meant to pray for him - even if it was just for that day.
I reached out to some other prayer warrior friends of mine, explained the dream, and asked them to lift my friend up in prayer along with me that day. One responded later that day, "Felt some zip praying for your friend!" I too had felt God's encouraging presence as I prayed. I prayed generally that God would bust into his life and that he would feel God's peace and protection like never before that week. I also prayed specifically that he would show up to our 24/7 prayer event happening the next week. Myself and other students were setting up a prayer tent on a busy sidewalk on our campus for the purpose of praying for the campus and whoever passed by. I hoped I would get a chance to pray for my friend in person.
My friend was someone who I had had theatre classes with. I remembered that there always seemed to be something going wrong in his life. He identifies as gay and had had a rough bout with his parents about it for most of his life. College hadn't treated him well and he generally walked compassless. Nonetheless, whenever he shared his struggles with me, my heart went out to him. Myself and my classmates did our best to love him. My dream was so sweet to me as it was an invitation to me to participate in what God wanted to do in his life now.
Fast forward to the prayer tent. It was later in the night on night and a few girls had sat down after we offered them hot cocoa. Myself and others were praying for them and getting to know them when I saw my friend from my dream walk by. I yelled his name and practically pummeled him with a hug. Small talk, I asked how he was, I shared my life, I told him what the tent was about, and (the big moment) asked him if there was anything I could pray about for him. He said, "Well sure! Do I have to do anything?" I laughed and said that all he had to do was let me know if he wanted anything blessed or different in his life because I believe that Jesus loves and changes things. He said, "Ya! I just really feel like I've been on a journey to understand who I am. If you could pray for that process that would be awesome." Yes, sir. I absolutely would.
I blessed him, thanked Jesus for His awesome creation of my friend, asked for revelation of his identity as God's child, he said thank you, and went on his way. I run back to my other friend who had also been praying with me last week and just squealed out the news.
Whatever we think about spiritual dreams, whatever we think about prayer, and whatever we think about coincidence, we all have choices when situations like these come across our paths.
We have the choice to trust and just go with what we think God is doing or skip out because we might get it wrong. We have the choice to believe that our prayers won't make a difference to God or in how the universe continues to spin, or, we can believe that prayer moves and shifts things.
Some of us may be at this crossroads of decision. We've done the research and we've read the Word but something still stands in the way. Do we truly believe that God will move? If we don't, we really don't have a reason to pray, we really don't have a reason to get upset if we perceive Him not moving, and we don't really have a reason to believe He is paying attention to this relationship thing we are supposed to be in. But if we come to God with a believing heart, sure and unwavering that He will hear and move, we will see.
James 1:6-8, "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."
John 14:12-14, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
I recently finished reading The Glory Within by Corey Russel. One of the key takeaways for me was, "Faith is the key to accessing all things of The Kingdom." We have to taste and see that the Lord is good; take a step out to taste then see the benefits. No farmer sees a crop before He sows. Are we sowing unbelief or belief?
Some of us are at this crossroads and want desperately to belief that God will move at the sound of our voice. But our experience seems to have told us otherwise. I don't have the answers for why bad things happen or why sometimes good things don't happen. I only know that in suffering our hearts get uncovered and we find this question: do we really want to believe that God isn't good to us or that He won't listen? What brings us hope? I'm not sure the thought that God doesn't move has brought anyone life, has freed anyone from anything, or has helped them in their relationship with God. Of course it is scary to put ourselves out on the line in front of someone who we believe hasn't lead us well in the past.
But it's better than staying in the pit and never actually giving goodness a chance.
The last thing I want to say about prayer, is that it gets really, really fun. I wouldn't write about it if I didn't experience true life and joy and peace from practicing prayer. As soon as I began to step into the life that prayer offers, and, more importantly, to dive into the amazing person of the God I'm talking to, all the previous doubts and fears went completely away. I live in a state of triumph way more than a state of struggle nowadays. It's much easier to hear God talk back, I get to tell my friends about how I see Him moving from whatever I prayed last week, and I get to be blessed by what others pray for me.
Of course we won't want to pray if we don't believe God hears and moves. It would be foolish to try to have conversation with someone you believed would never interact with you tangibly. But I know that's not really where you are. I know that there's a hope in you. Sometimes, it's probably really annoying because you'd just rather drop the whole praying thing. But the hope that He might someday actually respond to you, keeps you coming back to your knees. That's the Holy Spirit. That's God after your heart. Trust it. Lean into it. See Him with renewed eyes and let Him renew your heart and life.
It's talking to God and sticking around long enough to hear Him talk back.