“In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Phil. 4:6)
How often do we enter into a challenging situation and forget to pray for God’s assistance? It may be a difficult meeting with the boss, or an effort to resolve a disagreement with our spouse, or a discussion with one of our children over a certain disciplinary action.
Over the years I have experienced times when I have neglected to pray and times when I remembered. At work, I often found myself praying in the hallways and elevators as I walked to meetings where potential conflicts needed to be resolved. The outcomes always seemed to be better when I prayed.
Here is a non-work story for which I have found memories. Many years ago our oldest daughter was in a serious dating relationship with a young man who I had met on several occasions. He called one day and asked if we could get together for lunch. Since on a prior occasion he had expressed interest in a workplace ministry I was involved in, I had thought that he wanted to follow-up on that conversation.
As I was leaving my office to meet with him, the thought hit me, “What if he wants to ask permission to marry our daughter? How will I respond? So, I started to pray, asking God what I should say. We had no reservations about him being a good husband for our daughter. It was more a matter of what form should my response take for such an important request.
After a prolonged discussion on a variety of subjects, there was a pause and then a request for permission to marry our daughter. As a result of my prayer, I said, “Well, I have two requirements.” His countenance gave a worried look. “The requirements are that you love God and that you love our daughter.” He let out a sigh, and said, “Oh, I can do that! That will not be a problem.”
In a postscript to this story, it turns out that our second daughter was also in a serious dating relationship. About a month later I received a call from the young man she was dating who lived out of state. He said that he had hoped to talk with me in person, but his circumstances did not allow it. He was coming to town to see our daughter and wanted our permission to marry her. Thinking back to what happened the month before, I said, “Well, I have two requirements,” and before I could state what they were, he said, “Yes and yes.” He had obviously consulted with our other daughter’s fiancé. This past year both marriages celebrated their twenty-sixth anniversaries. They and their families have brought us much joy and many fond memories.
The Bible is full of stories of people who prayed for God’s assistance before entering into challenging situations – Moses, Joshua, Esther, Nehemiah, to name just a few. Jesus conspicuously prayed to the Father before commanding Lazarus to rise from the dead.
How do you pray before entering into a challenging situation?