First Mennonite Church of Morton

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    Overthining Prayer

    March 22, 2017 Aaron Yoder
    Filed Under:
    Prayer, Faith
    Overthining Prayer

    Last week, our family ventured eastward to visit my parents in North Carolina.  Visiting mom and dad was so enjoyable – however the journey itself was challenging.  Our precious son Luke refuses to fall asleep in his five-point-harness car seat.  He loves to travel in the car…until he gets tired.  Instead of closing simply his eyes, like the rest of our children, and so he cries until he either makes himself sick or falls into a twilight daze (with eyes open) from exhaustion.  This trip was no exception.

    As we entered the vehicle during the dark, early morning hours and we merged onto the interstate, I immediately began to pray.  My prayer was simple, “Lord, please provide peace for Luke.”  All was well for the first hour.  Janice was driving, I was sitting between the twins and our kids remained awake and content listening to music.  However, as the second hour approached, Luke’s contentment faded and the tears began.  My prayers remained the same, but more fervent.  I was whispering under my breath that the Lord would aid our son to fall asleep.  The minutes felt like hours as the cries of our son continued.  Then, as he was holding my hand, he stopped.  He was asleep!  The Lord had answered my prayer – even if it only lasted for 40 minutes.  In fact, later that day, the same thing occurred!  Luke fell asleep again for about 20 minutes between Bloomington and home.  I am convinced that the Lord intervened…for all of our sakes.

    Yet, there is a temptation within me (and I suspect in you) to be cynical about God actually answering such a specific prayer while we were traveling.  One thought says, “It probably would have happened anyway.”  Another thought says, “God really isn’t concerned about helping a crying child fall asleep.”  And yet, Jesus teaches us to pray honestly and persistently (see Luke 11 & 18).  Then he goes on to say, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask” (Matthew 7:11).  Jesus reminds us that we ought not to overthink prayer, or how it all works.  Instead, we should ask and not be surprised when He answers with a good gift…like peaceful sleep.

    If we are honest, many of us struggle with prayer because we try to ‘figure it out’ or overthink it.  Certainly, good theology about prayer is important (which was the point of our last sermon series.)  But Paul Miller describes us well in his book ‘A Praying Life’. “We just don’t think God could be concerned the puny details of our lives.  We either believe he’s too big or that we’re not that important.  No wonder Jesus told us to be like little children.  Little children are not daunted by the size of their parents.  They come, regardless.” 

    This April, several adult small groups will be offered to help us all be less cynical about prayer and more apt to approach God like the gracious Father He is.  We will be studying Miller’s book and take time to meet seven times between April and July.  I invite you to consider being part of these groups and reading with us.  I’m trusting that if we learn to pray with humility and persistence, we WILL see God respond.  I’m pretty sure that He cares for His people more than we know!

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