Prayer: The Lord is Near
My husband Jeff is in Africa right now. I miss him, and I miss the little things like going downstairs early in the morning and seeing that he’s already made a pot of coffee or cooking dinner and hearing the garage door open (ours is quite loud) and realizing he’s home early. But for now I’ll have to do with phone calls and email since he’s so far away, and since we haven’t learned how to use Skype yet.
Clearly life looks different when someone you love isn’t around. It’s better when they are near. That word, near, stood out to me the other day when I read this passage in Philippians.
The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4b-7
The Lord is near.
Do we always feel his nearness? Other English translations say he is “at hand” and “ever present with us.” If this is the case why does it seem like so many people feel he’s only watching us from a distance? While that’s a tough question with a complex answer, I know that for myself personally I feel God’s closeness when I’m in the habit of prayer.
When I’m praying—letting my requests be made known to God—I’m in the practice of voicing my concerns to God and asking him for help. “God, help me to have patience with the kids.” “Father God, help my friend get a full time job.” “God, somehow put an end to the war in Syria.”
Whether my requests are about smaller things like the desire to do well on a test or about big things like reconciliation for a separated married couple, God hears me.
The more I pray the more I see things happen. The more I pray the more coincidences I see, only they aren’t coincidences.
With each answer to prayer comes a tangible reminder that God is with me; that God is near. With my unanswered prayers comes peace. I may sense God telling me to wait. I may experience God changing my desires and my thoughts so that what I thought I wanted is not the same anymore. And in some situations, his answer is no.
It can be devastating when we don’t get what we ask for but somehow even in that I can experience God’s nearness. Maybe it’s because I’ve opened up my life to him. Maybe it’s because I’ve actively pursued his help. I don’t know exactly how it happens but even in the midst of bad news there can be “peace that passes understanding.”
This passage encourages me to pray, to pray about any and everything. It encourages me to cultivate thankfulness in the midst of waiting and wanting.
This passage shows me the relationship between prayer and God’s nearness.
On the one hand, God is near. Therefore, we pray because he sees everything, he is all-powerful and he cares enough to remain close. We have the confidence to pray about all things because the Lord is near. On the other hand, pray so you can experience God’s nearness. Instead of thinking or feeling that God is aloof and uninterested, pray. Pray, let your requests be made known to God, talk to him—and in doing so we will be connected with his presence.
The habit of prayer draws us closer to God. Or another way to put it is that the habit of prayer opens our eyes to his closeness, opens our lives to his answers, and opens our hearts to his peace.
Take a moment to pray, and reflect on the truth that “the Lord is near”. How does this change your outlook today?
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