It was a cold, cold January day and I was walking across the campus of Mississippi College after attending a meeting. I ran into Dr. Ivan Parke out there on the campus and of course after saying hi to each other our conversation immediately turned to the weather. “Man, it’s cold,” I said, to which he responded, “I like it.” “You have got to be kidding,” I responded. “No,” he said, “I remember one hot August day when the humidity was high and the heat was higher and I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a day like this and I told the Lord I wouldn’t complain. I look forward to the cool, cool weather.” So I said, “We can blame this cold, cold weather on you. I do not like cold weather. I despise it and I am praying that the weather will be warm.” With a smile and a gentle spirit he said, “Well, we’ll see who gets their prayers answered.” Obviously, in the middle of January, my desire for warm days were few and far between. I said something like, “Well, we’ll just have the battle of the prayers.” He headed off to his responsibilities and I went on to my car.
I walked along thinking about my prayer life and seriously what I asked for sometimes. The Bible says that we are supposed to pray and I do. It says that Jesus taught, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). And so I ask, seek, knock and desire for the Lord to answer my requests, but suddenly on that day I realized that often what I’m praying for is really not in line with what others may need or what God may want. James tells us about prayer that we have not because we ask not (4:2). Now there are a lot of people who would say, “Well, I ask all the time and He doesn’t give me what I want.” Well, He didn’t stop when He said, “You have not because you ask not.” The verse continues, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss” (4:3). You ask wrongly. You miss the purpose and plan of God in praying and asking.
I remember a time years ago when my son was playing little league baseball. They had a game coming up one afternoon and before we could ever get to the game, the rains came. We were in a semi-drought at the time and the farmers and folks with gardens desperately needed and wanted a rain and on that afternoon the rains came. A little league baseball player got real upset because it rained out his game and he wanted to play. I remember trying to reason with him and tell him of all the people who were being blessed by the rain and how many people were farmers who depended on the rain to provide a living for their family. At the time, it did not faze him the slightest. My theological perspective and my care for the rest of the world did not bend his expression of desire to play baseball that afternoon. The prayer wars were real to him that day and he had lost the battle.
In our world of Baptist life you sometimes hear of people concerned about getting their way in church or on some issue and theological wars break out and music wars erupt and personal preference wars create skirmishes across the landscape and prayer wars that could be stated something like, “I want God to do what I want Him to do. I want my will done and I want it now.” Often we fail to stop and consider are there great needs in the lives of others that we’re not understanding, or even consider could the will of God possibly be something other than what I am demanding. No, all we think about is I want to make my point. I want my will done. I want things to be done my way. I want my song to be sung. I want the theology to fit my mindset. I want to play my baseball game.
Sometimes the will of God needs to be factored in to whatever it is that you are feeling and wanting. For me, I walked on through the breeze of a cold January morning realizing that the reason it was the way it was is because God, in His season, tilted the earth and we were in the midst of winter and that’s what winter brings so enjoy it. Deal with it. Move on. For the day will come when August will arrive again and in the plan and purposes of God, the earth will tilt the other way and wonderful warm humid weather will be with us again. Dr. Parke will probably not be happy but I will be at least for a season after which his smile will return and I will be looking for warm clothes and a place to hibernate. We all live in a continuing cycle of seasons planned by God. Each of the seasons brings its uniqueness that may or may not fit your delights but it is best, best for the land, best for what God has in store for the days ahead, best for a lot of other folks, some who need to be warmed up and some who need to be cooled down. Whichever section you happen to sit in just try to sit back and enjoy, be flexible and realize that your kind of weather may be just around the corner.
A final word about the prayer wars – maybe the best thing for all of us to do is to try to shape our prayers aimed for much bigger things than just the temperature and having our way about things. To begin to think in terms of a world that needs to know that Jesus loves them. To exhibit before that world of people, God’s people, who have experienced that love and can translate that love into living care for those around us so that whatever is happening with the weather, sleet or snow, rain or cold, or blessed warmth, we will stay busy doing what He has called us to do and being what He wants us to be. When we do, we can all get on the same page praying together.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.