Pray for me! Pray for me! How many times have you said it? How many times have you done it? How many times have you fallen for the same big fat prayer mistake that I have? I have begged, pleaded, implored, whined, complained, moaned, and thrown five million pity parties for myself in order to get people to pray for me so I could come up for air from my latest trial or tribulation – some the results of my own sin, some legitimately the result of tests, trials, and others’ sins. But more often than not, I fell prey to a lesson I have only recently learned. I saw it with utter clarity when I heard someone say today what I have heard a million times over.
“The power of prayer works,” the person said.
“Prayer doesn’t have power,” I replied. “The power is God’s.”
The Holy Spirit convicted me recently. Big time. And He gave me a wonderful visual of what I have done for so very long.
Picture it. Starting line football player. I don’t know the first thing about the game, by the way. But the visual works even for the clueless like me. Championship football game. Football player throws on a pair of blue jeans, a button down shirt, tosses on some cologne, and tops off his outfit with comfy tube socks and a worn pair of sneakers. Football game starts. Football player heads to the middle of the field, plunks down on the field, and yells at the top of his lungs, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”
The football player is a professional. He has everything he needs to suit up for a game, at home. He has years of training behind him – with the best coaches in the league. He has shown up for every practice, trained, and knows the plays inside and out. The opposing team may be a bunch of giants, but this player and his team have been preparing for this game for a long time.
So what is the football player doing in his blue jeans and button down shirt plunked down in the middle of the football field during a championship game screaming, “Pray for me! Pray for me!” He is doing what I have done for most of my Christian walk thus far. He is setting himself up for failure, throwing the responsibility for victory on the rest of the team, and harming their potential to win in the process. Yet he believes with all his heart – just like I did until very recently – that all he has to do is yell, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”
There is a time for prayer, and a time for action. This football player’s prayer should have taken place in the locker room. He should be busy winning right now. His victory is guaranteed if he follows the plays uniquely created for what he faces right now, and he has a strong foundation of training and preparation under him. But instead of taking responsibility for his part in the championship game, he is relying on the “power” of prayer.
Sounds just like me. My father in Christ raised me up in the Lord with some of the strongest Bible teaching I have ever come across, I study the Bible with an insatiable hunger, I love the Lord more than anything or anyone on this earth, I dedicate my life to Him, I serve Him, I receive His love today like never before, I follow after Him as best I know how, and I pray and listen as best I can. But if the truth be told, I was not putting into action everything God has poured into my heart.
Instead of standing on the strong faith that comes from hearing the Word of God, combined with letting God’s love pour through my heart which He has turned from hard into malleable and ready for His use, I was screaming, “Pray for me! Pray for me!” I knew what to do, but I ran to everyone around me to give me an answer. Confusion broke out.
Thank God, as my circumstances became challenging and painful beyond description, as the people I had relied on fell to the wayside, as I found myself increasingly isolated, and as God pulled my hands and heart off of a four-walled church building that I had turned into an idol, as I learned to repent daily for the sins God showed me had turned His temple within into a den of theives, as His temple within becomes increasingly the holy place He desires by the renewing of my mind through the Word of God, guess what?
I have risen by His grace from the middle of the football field, put on the armor of God, been re-filled with the Holy Spirit, and gotten into the championship game with confidence – IN HIM.
Jesus Christ is my favorite coach, and His play book is the Holy Bible. It is my job to study it, and my job to apply it. It is my job to suit up and show up. It is my job instead of screaming, “pray for me! pray for me!” to go out and assume the victory in Jesus Christ that belongs to me as a born-again, Holy Spirit-filled believer.
What about you? Are you ready to win? Are you on the bench? Are you still at home? Are you plunked down in the middle of the field? Are you already in the game?
Ready for victory? Let’s go.
PS If Jesus Christ is not your coach, if you are tired of being defeated in life, if you believe He is the Son of God, came in the flesh, died on the cross and rose again for your sins to be forgiven, confess your sins to Him, receive His fogiveness, and invite Him into your heart to be your Lord, your Savior, your everything – and your coach for life. There is no cost, by the way. He already paid it all.