Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations (Mark Batterson in Praying Circles around Your Children).
From my 2009 Journal. As I continue to struggle with the concept of prayer, I can see myself seated in the middle of a room, conversing with Jesus. A large number of boxes line the periphery of the room. What are those? I wonder.
“They are your prayers,” He says. “You had a question about them?”
How did He know? (Well, duh. He knows everything.)
“Yes,” I say. “I want to know what good are they?” They’re in files, categorized and maybe even numbered, but here they all sit, here in my mind. What good are they? I can go to a box, pull out a file, read what I wrote, but so what?
“Would you like Me to take them off your hands?” He asks.
“Sure. You’re welcome to them.” I have no clue what He’s going to do with them, but I agree.
Several angels enter and start picking them up, loading them onto carts, and removing them from the room.
“So now what?”
“Just sit and talk to Me,” He says.
“What shall we talk about?” I ask.
“Anything we like,” He responds. “Got anything on your mind?”
Nothing comes to mind.
“Okay,” He says. “Want to play checkers?”
Really?! This is the answer to my question “What good are they?”
“Do you trust Me?”
“Explicitly,” I reply.
“Then don’t worry about it. The angels know what to do with them.”
I watch as one angel pulls out a file and reads the contents. He laughs. Is he mocking me? Was it a silly little prayer that I tucked into that folder?
“Not at all!” responds Jesus to my thoughts. “It’s giving him something to do. He has an errand to run and delights in fulfilling my commands.”
“Your commands?! But that was my prayer!” I exclaim.
“But you gave it to me, didn’t you? You said you trusted Me with it. Now it’s mine to do with as I please. Some of the prayers will get dispatched immediately. Others need to stay in the box a little longer—it’s not time yet. A few of these files don’t belong there. We’ll sort them out and discard the redundant ones and the soiled ones. (We will replace those with clean copies before they’re dispatched.) A few we’ll just toss in the fire if you don’t mind.”
“Mind? Of course not! I trust You to figure out which is which.”
“Good,” says Jesus. “Your move.”
I mull over what He’s just told me. “So I don’t need to figure out what to pray or write down? Just do it, file it, and keep handing the boxes off to You?”
“Yep, that’ll work.”
“Jesus . . . thank You.”
“You’re welcome. You still have a question?”
“Yeah . . . does a bigger folder get more attention than a smaller one? For example, if I pray for someone once, it creates one sentence on one sheet of paper and makes one skinny file. But if I pray for someone daily, their folder gets stuffed and may even need a filing cabinet to hold them all.
I sense at once that no single piece of paper gets lost. But . . .
“So what’s your question?”
“Do You give preference to bigger files?”
“Do you trust Me?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I think so.”
“What would happen if this room burned down and all the boxes were gone?”
“It would feel like a waste.”
“But what if one paper survived? What if it was made of an incorruptible material?”
I raise my eyebrows.
“What if that one item was your heart? Prayers are important enough, but it’s your heart that I care about even more.”
And all this time my focus was on how many prayers I prayed, how long I prayed, what I prayed—all the “shoulds” and “supposed tos.”
There’s no should in a love relationship.