“…pray without ceasing…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, New American Standard Bible)
My mom never smoked, drank or gambled. She always said she wanted “something to show for it,” something to show for her money. In this she was wise.
I have to be careful that I don’t carry this idea into prayer. There are things I pray and pray and pray for, but (at least so far) I feel I have little or nothing “to show for it.” The prayers unanswered, it seems I have nothing to show for the effort, for the hours of prayer, for the choice to trust and believe. There is no question but that these prayers are in the Lord’s will; His heart is that all His children be saved, and He wants all of us growing in the fruit of the Spirit. Still, having nothing to show for the hours in prayer can be discouraging.
What I forget is that prayer also changes the person who prays. That means my prayers for others are somehow changing me. So even if I can’t see any change in the other person or situation, the Lord is still working: not only behind the scenes for the subject of my prayers but also on me. It’s taken an exceedingly long time, but when I deal with a headstrong family member, I can see He has grown my patience. When I have to navigate a tough situation, one which in the past I may have resolved by “doing it my way,” I see He has helped me become more humble.
Remembering this encourages me to continue praying for the sometimes trying people and situations in my life. Though I can’t see the prayed for changes today, the Lord has been gracious to show me the changes He has made in me. Even if I don’t live to see the changes in others, because He has been faithful in changing me, I realize I can trust Him. And I realize I do have “something to show for it.”
Father, help me be patient, help me faithfully continue praying for those around me and for the sometimes difficult situations. Help me remember that when I faithfully follow You, whether or not I can see it, there is always “something to show for it.”