During my years in school, as I took courses to help me get a handle on this English language of ours, we were instructed to avoid sentence structures that contain double negatives. But for today, I am choosing to do that very thing—by writing a sentence that applies to our current state of life with regards to the war in Europe.
Here goes: “When we pray, we are not doing nothing.”
Yikes—even as I write it, I feel the disapproving glance from my English teacher. But that is OK, because in this context, not only am I writing with purpose, but also with truth.
There is power in prayer. And when we pray, something (not nothing) happens.
As we have all viewed the many images, videos, and news shows on the invasion of Ukraine, we are tempted to feel gripped in helplessness. After all, what can we as individuals do to aid the many innocent victims of a war invasion?
We are tempted to feel resigned to an empty answer to that question, which is “nothing…we can do nothing to help them.”
To be clear, that is wrong. We can do something. We can pray, for the people of Ukraine, for the leaders of their government, for their citizens who have armed up in defense of their country, their cities, their neighborhoods.
No doubt, to pray can seem to be a simplistic, trite response to a war scenario. But prayer is neither simplistic or trite. It is powerful and effective.
Prayer is ordained by God, and He instructs us throughout both Old and New Testaments that God hears our prayers—and He answers them.
Consider Daniel. In spite of the contrived order to only pray to King Darius, he continued his habit of praying to God three times daily. He knew his objectors would be listening, so he opened the windows to his dwelling to make it easier for them to convict him.
Daniel knew the power of the One to whom he was praying was greater than the power of the king, or even the waiting jaws of lions.
Prayer has an uncanny ability to bring both courage and peace to our hearts in the midst of a storm. The nearness and tangible presence of Almighty God becomes dearer and nearer as we pray in faith.
So, how do we approach times like these? What can we do? We can pray. James gave us a simple sentence of truth in chapter 5, verse 16: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Don’t be thrown by the word “righteous.” That merely means God has forgiven us, not that we are spiritually superior. The true righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us—credited to our account—by what Jesus did on the cross. God sees us as righteous if we are believers in Jesus. And He has invited into His presence when we pray.
And that is not nothing. It is a powerful something.