“If it matters to you, it matters to God”

November 8, 2012

Prayer is not hard. Seriously! Take it from one for whom prayer has always been a struggle. It’s not really that hard.

By all means, I make it hard sometimes. I imagine that I have to create the ideal environment for prayer. My mind has to be in the right place. I have to wake up early, when the house is quiet. I have to allow this much time for it. I have to do it on my knees. I have to light a candle. I have to read this scripture first. I have to recite these prayers. I have to pray for things in a certain order.

If I buy into the idea that there is this right way to do it, then I find that it doesn’t get done very often. And I feel guilty. And prayer, which ought to help calm my fears, becomes another source of anxiety. Besides, suppose that I’ve finally learned to “do it right”—that through prayer I’m ascending the spiritual heights alongside the greatest mystics—do I imagine that my prayers will ever sound like anything more than “goo-goo, ga-ga” to my Father?

Please!

This week, for my second sermon on the theme of gratitude, I’m preaching from Philippians 4, including verses 6-7. Listen to how easy prayer is for Paul:

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Feeling anxious? Tell the Lord about each and every thing you’re worried about—whether for yourself or for others. Is it too trivial, too small, too self-centered? Don’t worry. If it’s big enough to cause you to worry, it’s big enough for you to mention in prayer. And as you pray, remember also to give thanks for the good things that you’ve experienced.

Even as I write this, I can imagine an objection: “Yes, but there’s so much more to prayer than that!” I agree that there can be. But start here and see what happens. Start here and see where the Holy Spirit takes you next.

As is so often the case, I appreciate N.T. Wright’s words about this scripture:

People sometimes say today that one shouldn’t bother God about trivial requests (fine weather for the church picnic; a  parking space in a busy street); but, though of course our intercessions should normally focus on serious and major matters, we note that Paul says we should ask God about every area of life. If it matters to you, it matters to God. Prayer like that will mean that God’s peace—not a Stoic lack of concern, but a deep peace in the middle of life’s problems and storms—will keep guard around your heart and mind, like a squadron of soldiers looking after a treasure chest.[†]

Speaking of which, this old gospel hymn still rings true for me:

N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters (Louisville: WJK, 2004), 131.

2 Responses to ““If it matters to you, it matters to God””

  1. Cindy Allen Says:

    Thank you, I needed to hear this.


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