In a Cyber-Monday world where almost anything can be ordered and delivered according to expectation via express shipping, it is a wonder that so many people remain unfulfilled—and yet, the question answers itself, given that the finer things of life such as faith, hope, love, and wellness are not accessible via app or download. When we make it a priority to reconnect our lives with the author of our life’s purpose through prayer, we also establish our access to the spiritual elements listed above.
There are different types of prayer—most involve the communication of petitions, thanksgiving, praise, intercession for others or requests for forgiveness. Culturally, prayer is mostly associated with submitting petitions for things or circumstances that we believe will make us happy. Sometimes our prayers are answered as-is. Other times they are answered with silence—or a test. More than not, prayers are answered with an invitation to action, according to the measure of your heart and intent.
In the holiday movie classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey finds himself at a crisis point, after a life of sacrifice and service to others. He prayed a simple, sincere prayer of desperation, asking God to show him the way. Shortly afterwards, he finds himself at a bridge, preparing to take his life, when a stranger jumps into the icy lake below ahead of him, prompting George to act. He immediately jumps in to save the man, who is later revealed to be George’s guardian angel, who has been sent to provide George insight and clarity to the purpose and impact of his life, beyond his perceived disappointments and failures. At that moment at the bridge, George’s prayer for direction and help was answered through the invitation to act according to the measure of his heart and his innate love and empathy for others--which was ultimately used to engineer his own rescue. Although fictional, it is a poignant example of how prayers are answered at our level of capability to lead us to a greater awareness of the faith, hope and love that surrounds us daily. The form of those answers are not always answered literally. Usually when prayers are answered with a call-to-action, it leads to a greater answer beyond our emotions and perception, yielding an answer that supersedes the resolution of our initial request and provides a realization of a higher level of peace and contentment.
The holiday season is a great opportunity to carve out time for prayer to allow for greater awareness of the answers that have already been provided for us in the form of an invitation to act--by embracing new challenges, new disciplines, or a new door of action in advance of the new year ahead. The holidays also provide a greater opportunity to pray for others that may need a rescue from their current trials and to intercede for those who may have lost their way. Per the advisory provided in scripture: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Pray--and anticipate the invitation.