Prayer is NOT a Placebo

Where I live, as everyone knows who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, is flooded. And when I say flooded, I mean FLOODED. I live on a hill, so I’m generally safe. A few weeks ago, I made a message in a bottle, and I was going to throw it into the river. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid. But now, I’m thinking that if I wait long enough, I can just throw it off my front porch. My son caught his first fish today, and the sad part is, we weren’t even at the river. 

An old friend from VBS and high school is helping to aid people who are sandbagging the levee. Tonight, she told me about the people working having blistered, bleeding hands and fingers. She didn’t even have to mention how tired they were. I’m sure they’re worn out. Actually, I’m talking to her now, and we’re discussing God and faith. These are my favorite conversations. For just one moment in the midst of a loud, crazy world, in the midst of being stranded and the water inching closer to homes and destruction, I’m taking a break. I’m talking to someone about God. 

The day before all the flooding really started stranding people, I went into town to get a few things before our road was underwater. And this town probably has something like five hundred people in it, if that. It’s not a big place at all. Unless the school has just let out, you don’t see a lot of people. As I’m driving, I see people just in flocks, taking pictures of the river, walking out of stores with bags and bags of stuff, people calling family on their phones, and trucks were everywhere. On a little road overlooking the river, there’s this mass of people handling the sandbagging, trucks with blinking lights, and all I could think of was who knew Smithland had so many people in it? Of course, the people helping were comprised of a lot of people from other nearby towns. I finally get into the grocery store, and everything is much quieter. I go up to a shelf where a woman is standing somewhat in my way. 

“Excuse me,” I say. The woman was very polite. She was an older woman who, at first, was staring me down hard. I had to resist the small talk of, “Nice weather we’re having.” Of course, where I come from, it’s more like, “It sure is nice out there, ain’t it?” But that sort of sarcasm would probably have gotten me slapped, so I said, “Smithland is in a buzz, isn’t it?” to which the woman replied, “It sure is. Never seen it like this before.” And for a moment, she smiled. I smiled. It was a calm little break. 

God says that we can go to Him at any time. 1 Thessalonians says, “Pray without ceasing.” I don’t think God expects us to be on our knees 24/7, but I take the verse to mean that we can go to Him anytime. We can talk to Him while we go through the store like we’re talking to a friend. We can pray in the shower, we can pray in the car, we can pray when we work, and you can do it as though God’s ear was right next to you. Praying without end means never having to say amen. You just pick up right where you left off. And when you pray, you’re taken out of the craziness for a moment. With prayer, whether you pray like a Baptist deacon on Sunday morning, or you just say one word like “Help,” you prayer is heard.  

It is so easy to get caught up in the web of our life and all of its events and busy days. But Psalm 46:10 is God reminding us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” For just one moment, for one deep breath, be still. Speak to Him. He may have been trying to get to you all along. And in this web also lies doubt for so many people. It can be hard at times to believe that God is really listening and He truly hears. But the Bible says that we can approach God confidently, that if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us. [1 John 5:14.] God’s will is that we know Him and know of His mercy and grace. His will is that we would allow Him to guide us and lead us. When you ask according to the will of God, you’re just asking for love. 

[Please pray for all the communities and families affected by the flooding of the Ohio River. And please pray for the volunteers working relentlessly to prevent as much damage as possible to people’s homes and businesses. There truly is power in prayer.]

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