24. WHAT TO PRAY FOR
One day my father was replacing a burned-out bulb in the taillight of our old car. In replacing the lens he noticed he had lost a little screw in the tall grass. He had an urgent appointment for that night and not much time to spare. He searched and searched for the little screw, but to no avail.
My younger brother Tom, then five or six years old, was playing next door with a friend. Finally Dad called him and his friend over to help find the screw. When Dad told them what he wanted, Tom asked, "Have you prayed about it?"
My father replied, "No, I haven't, Tom."
Tom said, "Well let's pray, Daddy."
Tom then prayed along the following lines: "Heavenly Father, Daddy has lost the screw that he needs for the car. He can't find it and he needs it badly. Help us to find it. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."
Believe it or not, as soon as Tom had finished his prayer, Dad put his hand down in the grass and retrieved the screw. Coincidence? Not at all! It was a distinct answer to prayer.
Nothing is off-limits for prayer
Since you worry about everything, pray about everything. As Paul says in Philippians 4:6, "In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
You may pray about the smallest thing or the greatest thing. Set no boundaries with respect to God's care. It is a wide-open field. You may pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. You may also pray for a new pair of shoes. Pray to God about the food you eat, the water you drink, the clothing you wear.
Does God not attend to the funeral of every sparrow? Has He not numbered the hairs on our heads? Even the things you think of as big are a small matter to him— though He treats them as important. Our entire earth is like a speck of sand on the beach in comparison to the size of the universe. If you worry about the smallest things, pray about the smallest things.
Peter says to pray "casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). The words translated "care" here are two distinct and different words in the Greek. The first is the same term translated elsewhere as "anxiety," which we discussed earlier with reference to worry and the divided mind. The other refers to God's solicitous interest in our highest good. The verse, then, invites us to throw all our mind-dividing worries onto Him, for He is desirous of the best for us. Throw all your worries down. Just like a large suitcase.
There is an old song by Tindley in which the chorus says:
Leave it there, leave it there. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely lead you out. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
How to leave your burden
The trouble is, we pretend to take our burdens to the Lord, but instead of leaving them with Him, we take them all home again.
Close friends of our family lived in Darlington, Maryland, in the early 1940s. The husband and father was a classmate of my father during their school days. This Darlington couple had eight children. The mother, whom we affectionately called Aunt Edith, was coming home from a neighbor's house one Saturday afternoon. As she came nearer she saw her five youngest children huddled together in deep concentration of interest and effort. Finally, after several minutes of trying to discover the center of the attraction, she was close enough to see they were playing with baby skunks. Aghast, she cried at the top of her voice, "Children, run!" At which point each child picked up a skunk and ran!
Isn't that exactly what we do with our burdens and cares? We take them to the Lord in prayer, and He says, "Leave them and run!" Instead we hug them so close that the smell of them clings to us and we wonder why our friends find our presence nauseating! Yet no problem we have as a Christian is too great or too small for God to deal with. But, leave the problem with Him. This is a thrilling thought that you will do well to ponder.
A.T. Pierson, a Bible teacher, sat one day with George Mueller, the founder of many English orphanages. Mueller was relating to Pierson some of the marvelous things God had done for the Faith Orphanage in Bristol. As Mueller talked he wrote, and by and by Pierson noticed that he was having difficulty with his pen point. Suddenly Mueller bowed his head for a moment in prayer and then began writing again. Pierson asked what he had been praying about.
"This pen point/' replied Mueller. "It's not working properly. This is an important letter, and I was asking the Lord to help me so I could write clearly."
"Dear me," replied Pierson. "A man who trusts God for millions of pounds also prays about a scratchy pen point!"
If George Mueller had been like many of us, he would have become hot and bothered about his malfunctioning pen. Possibly he would have gotten exasperated with the man who sold him the pen or the company that made it. Perhaps he would have indulged in a little morbid reflection as to why he didn't buy a pen of another make instead of this miserable instrument that was causing him so much trouble. Or he might have thrown the pen down in disgust and given up on the letter, with the result that his conscience would have needled him later for not having written it.
In all kinds of ways, stress and anxiety could have been multiplied by this tiny incident. But it wasn't, because George Mueller wasn't afraid to pray over a small matter like a pen.
Anything big enough to worry about is big enough to pray about
This book has talked about a formula for winning over worry. But that formula will not work unless you enlist the power of almighty God. In your prayer ask God for the grace to enable you to rejoice, to control your feelings, to count your blessings.
Ask Him for the grace to respond to ingratitude with serenity. Call upon Him for the grace of becoming genuinely interested in other people. By prayer, call upon God to help you live in the consciousness of His nearness and therefore to display that poise that is the hallmark of God's presence within you.
Through prayer, ask God to give you the grace to "gird up the loins of your mind" so that you might have the mind of Christ. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
Through prayer you will enlist divine help in the matters of self-control, relaxation, enthusiasm, scheduling, living each day to the full, developing skills, and being industrious. Through prayer, spend time with God until you know His mind and do His will in the all-important matter of stewardship. Through the right kind of prayer life, you will be strengthened to live the surrendered life so essential to the poise that conquers worry.
Through prayer you can duplicate the request of earnest men and women many years ago, who, turning to Jesus, said, "Teach us to pray." The direct answers of God in response to your prayer will give you the strength to battle and conquer the vicious sin of worry. Apart from the blessings of prayer itself there is also a therapeutic value in the actual time spent in quiet before God. Pray about everything. Pray, and win over worry.