Prevenient Prayer

Do you know someone who has an admirable prayer life? Whenever I think about people who center their lives in prayer, I remember a beautiful lady named Betty Brown. Betty was a part-time church secretary for many years at the church where I heard my call to ministry, and she was active in almost every aspect of church life. She participated in the choir, Sunday school, Disciple Bible Study, Welcome Ministry, and of course, the Prayer Ministry. She was so revered, when the time came to open a new young mother’s circle of United Methodist Women, it was named after her. I had not heard my call to ministry yet, but God was moving me toward something new and I joined the Betty Brown Circle as a very young mother. I know that many seeds were planted there for me and the other young moms who participated.

Betty was invited to give a talk about prayer at a UMW gathering, and I will never forget the wonderful advice she gave us young moms. She told us that we should start praying for two things for our babies: (1) that they would have good college roommates who will be positive influences in their lives; and (2) that they would marry Godly men. I remember looking at my 9-month-old daughter on my lap, and I couldn’t imagine a time when college and marriage would ever come, but I began to pray that way.

It was a kind of “prevenient prayer” … in other words, a prayer that came before it was needed, paving the way to the answer in God’s time. And many of you know the rest of that story: my daughters are still best friends with their remarkable college roommates, who were selected at random, and I have the two best sons-in-law that a mother could ever hope for.

That’s what prayer can do.

Jesus tells a parable about what happens when we pray continuously that demonstrates the power of NOT GETTING DISCOURAGED in our prayers:

Luke 18 (Common English Bible)

18 Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” 

We can be sure that if an unjust judge will acquiesce to the persistence of a widow’s plea, how much more will a God who loves you enough to sacrifice his son for you hear and answer your prayers!

The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

God is never slow to help us. He hears us when we pray and answers according to his will and what is good for us. Sometimes that can be confusing, if we are praying for things that he knows will not serve us well in the long run. But Scripture, and Betty Brown, were right. Just keep on praying, and when you’re done, pray some more.

Are you discouraged in your prayers? Never mind. Just keep at it. God is here.

Good prayer requires STILLNESS. Read what my friend Shannon says about that.

Morning Bird by Michelle Robertson