Photos by Briana Lindsey Photography
Today I had a potential opportunity come my way out of nowhere but I was unsure if I wanted to act on it. While it would provide great financial benefits for our family, that would mean that I would have more on my plate and less time to spend with Ava each day. I immediately thought, "Maybe I should pray on it." But then I quickly snapped back to reality -- God wasn't going to give me the answer to this, I was going to have to decide for myself. But maybe, just maybe, pray would help me find that answer.
I grew up in the Catholic Church before switching over to a non-denominational church that fit our family better when I was in High School. So for longer than I can remember, I have prayed. We pray before we eat, we pray before bed and we pray when we want to thank God for our blessings or ask God for help or for healing.
To this day, I continue to pray but at times, it feels like I'm just going through the motions "because that's what a good Christian does." We've even joked before that my husband can barely understand the words I'm saying as I pray the same prayer before dinner as I did when I was little. I'm just going through the motions and sometimes, I don't even think about what I'm actually saying.
And then there are the prayers when I ask God for help. I need to make an important life decision or I need his help in healing or mending a relationship. And those are the times when prayer is much more than just going through the motions.
This morning my devotional really struck me as an "aha" moment and I'm going to warn you, I don't know the answer to my own question but I think that it's an important question to think about as it changed my outlook on prayer in an instant.
Does praying change the outcome or the outlook?
To this day, I have never ever thought about prayer in this way because as a child, I thought that I would ask God for something and he would change the outcome of that situation. "God, please heal my mom from cancer." And when he didn't heal her for seven years and she passed away, there where times when I felt like prayer was un-important.
Heck, there have been so many times in my life when I thought I wanted to give up on prayer.
What is the point of praying if the outcome isn't going to change?
What is the point of prayer if God already knows the course of my life, what decisions I'm going to make today and in the future?
What's the point of praying if no matter what I say, there will be no change in outcome.
Yep, at times I've felt like there's no purpose in praying because whatever I am asking for may not be granted. Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in miracles and I believe in the power of prayer but until today, I never really understood the true purpose until I read that simple 8-word question written on my daily devotional.
Does praying change the outcome or the outlook?
Maybe, prayer does both. Maybe prayer is there to help me take a step back and view my life without a clouded mindset. Maybe prayer is there to strengthen my relationship with God. Maybe prayer is there for more than just asking for help, but for thanking God for everything I have been given. Maybe prayer is far more about changing my mindset than about changing the outcome.
Because when we pray, we have a moment to ourselves. We have a moment to really think about the circumstances we are facing, the potential outcome and the best way to move forward. Without prayer, we may act on impulse without actually thinking or we may just decide to not love life because something didn't go our way. There are so many times I've prayed and realized, "You know what, maybe this negative situation is a blessing in disguise."
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." -- Matthew 5:43-44
And that, right there, is golden.
Like I said, I don't have the answer but wanted to share this with you because it is totally going to change the way I view prayer and my outlook on the purpose of prayer. So I'll leave you with the quote I read today that really hit home for me and I hope it speaks to you too.
"There are many catchphrases when it comes to prayer. One I've heard and said more than once is: "Prayer changes things." One day, I started to wonder: Does prayer change things, or does prayer change me? When I pray about a situation or concern, does praying alter the way I view the circumstances? That was something I hadn't considered before. At that point, I admitted that when I truly seek the Lord -- when I don't just go through the motions and run through my list of concerns -- my perspective changes. Sometimes I have a change of attitude. Other times I realize something I've overlooked in the past. On occassion, I gain compassion or wisdom." -- Kendra Smiley, Mother of the Year