My church started the year with Pastor Mark Batterson‘s four-part sermon series on based on The Circle Maker, his new NY Times Bestseller on prayer. It highlights the importance of dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long. Specifically, one of the core principles is the idea of “praying through.” Praying through is the opposite of seeking an answer as soon as possible. It’s a commitment to pray as long as it takes to realize God’s purpose in us – and for Him to receive the glory.
I had a real-life object lesson when we presented a junior version of the Circle Maker series to our Sunday School kids. It was a big day and we had a prayer walk scheduled to circle the theater where we meet. The kids were excited and one of them recommended praying for the “sick and the homeless” people at one of our prayer stops. I thought this was a particularly good idea since one girl in our class, a five year-old named Mykala has leukemia. I wanted a chance to circle her in pray as we circled the theater.
An interesting thing happened to me when it came time to pray for the sick. I realized that the week before when we invited our kids to draw their own prayer circles on butcher paper, Mykala had asked that God would use her as a doctor someday. It had really impressed me then because at age five I was transitioning between an aspiring garbage man and an aspiring NFL quarterback. But as I started to pray for little Mykala, I realized that her desire to be a doctor had likely been shaped by all the times she must have spent with doctors in her short life, and those interactions had probably prompted the desire of how she wanted to be used by God. If this was God’s way of impressing on her the desire to help the sick, then the absence of the disease would have meant the absence of the calling!
For the record, I did pray for Mykala’s physical health. And I didn’t just pray that the leukemia would remain in remission, but that God would take it away altogether. (Even I know you can’t tell kids that bold prayers honor God and then offer up something weak yourself). But on the inside, I also prayed that God would accomplish His purposes for this little girl’s life.
And on the inside I also resolved a little harder to stop praying away and start praying through – to stop praying that the problems in my life would go away as soon as possible and risk diminishing God’s presence in me, His purposes for me, and His glory through me… as long as it takes.
Thank you NCC Crosswalk Kids!
Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, speaker, and thought leader. To learn more about his services, visit NathanMagnuson.com/consulting or follow him on Twitter.
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