Watching the news coverage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey and the horrible flooding in Houston, my tears threaten to start their own flood. It’s just awful. I have family in the Houston area and saw pictures from my aunt’s home where water is filling the streets. They all know that I’m praying for them. I truly am — last night at bedtime, this morning at breakfast with my kids, every moment the floodwaters come to mind, as I see the images on the news, I pray. And, yet, it doesn’t feel like enough. In a text, my aunt thanked me for my prayers, and I replied with, “I wish I could do more.” Then it hit me and another wave of tears threatened. Do more? Really? Like petitioning to the God of the universe, the creator of wind and rain, the ultimate rescuer isn’t good enough? What am I going to do, load up my mini-van with buckets and start scooping water? In my ridiculous mind, I seemed to think that there was something more, something better than prayer. It lead me to open my Bible and let God teach me about the power of prayer.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus “…told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The parable is about an unrighteous, wicked judge who had ignored a widow’s plea for justice. The widow persisted in her pleading and the judge finally caved in. The study notes in my Bible (The MacArthur Study Bible ESV) summarize the point of the parable like this, “If such an unrighteous man would respond to persistent pleas, would not God, who is not only just, but also loving and merciful, do so more readily.” Our loving and merciful God hears our persistent pleas, and he will respond. If people really mean what they say on social media, if everyone who comments with the word “prayers” or #PrayforTexas is truly praying, I’d say we are being pretty persistent. Intentions aren’t the same as prayers, though. Simply saying or posting we’ll pray for those affected by the storm means nothing, until you appeal to God. If you post those words, I ask that you commit to praying – make it more than words. God hears us, and like the rains that don’t seem to stop, he will pour out his love, mercy, and comfort. Let us follow Paul’s example and pray without ceasing. In Colossians 1:9, the apostle writes, “And, so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you…” We can’t retro-activate our prayers to begin the day that Hurricane Harvey made it’s way to the Gulf Coast, but we can start today. From the moment we hear, see, or think about the devastation happening, we can pray. Then, we keep praying. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer,” (Romans 12:12). Praying isn’t reserved for mornings, meals, and bedtimes; it’s meant to be constant, never ceasing. I’m not saying we must quit life and just pray, but in the minutes and moments of our lives, we can be conscious of the Lord’s presence and bring our prayers to him. As we pray, we can ask the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those affected by Harvey. Pray that they are able to rejoice, not only in the hope of rebuilding, but in the hope of an eternity in a kingdom built by our Heavenly Father. We can pray that they are patient in this tribulation. The repeated message coming from the governor of Texas in a press conference was that recovery is going to take a long time. The struggles and trials the people of Texas face will not end when the flood waters recede. It has not ended for those on the coast even though the storm moved inland. The people of Texas will need continued prayers for patience as they rebuild. When the media moves on to the next story, we must move forward in prayer. Because of Christ, we can be confident that those fighting through Hurricane Harvey will return victorious. As Paul did in his letter to the Philippians, the people of Texas can say, “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,” (Philippians 1:19).
For now, ALL we can do is pray.
Lord, I know you have power over the wind and waves, the seas and the storms. I ask you to bring relief to the areas of Texas being drenched in rain. I pray for those areas where Hurricane Harvey has already passed over but left brokenness and destruction. I pray that through YOU, we unite; that through prayer, those people will feel the love and support of an entire nation. And, Lord, I pray that you help us to remain in constant prayer for the rebuilding of lives that will take far longer than the storm that threatened to destroy them. Thank you for the reminder that I can do no more, nothing better than pray.