“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.” ~ Acts 3:6-7
(This is part 4 of a series on essential prayers for faith leaders. You can find part 1 here.)
There’s a kind of prayer we all know how to pray. Particularly when we’re in dire straits, it rises up within us unbidden, like an automatic response to our great need. We might call it the “prayer of supplication” or the “cry of the heart,” but although it may sound different on each person’s lips, it’s always some form of riff on this singular sentiment: “God, help!”
It’s a beautiful prayer. The Psalms are full of prayers like this. I’m guessing maybe your life is too. Mine sure is.
The problem is that very often in our lives, it’s not the prayer we need to be praying.
Imagine there’s a governor serving under a great king. The king has given this governor a specific territory to oversee, and though it’s a beautiful country, it’s also plagued with violent rebels who’ve entrenched themselves in the land. Part of the governor’s mandate from the king is to root out these rebels and remove them, and to restore the villages and communities that they have overrun. The king has given the governor access to all the resources at his disposal. He’s given the governor his full authority to enact his will within the territory he’s been assigned.
Now what would you think of this governor if every time he encountered a rebel or saw a village in distress, instead of acting under the king’s authority, he ran back to the king and begged him to come and take care of the problem? At worst, you might think the governor is a coward. At the very least, you would think he doesn’t understand what it means to be a governor, or how to wield the authority of the king.
Yet, way too often, I think we act like that governor. We don’t understand the authority we’ve been given by God or how to apply it to the challenges we face. We feel powerless, helpless, impotent, when in fact we are anything but.