Thursday, January 19, 2023

Praying Like We're Terrorizing Psychiatric Patients

Suggested Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

In the Superman prequel series Smallville, Lois Lane discovered that Clark Kent was a super-powered hero long before he finally told her. At one point, Clark was facing a very difficult decision and Lois wanted to help but didn't know how. In natural Lois style, she barged into her therapist's office, traumatized the patient waiting for a session and then proceeded to share the dilemma with the amused and confused therapist. Finally, before the therapist had a chance to say anything, Lois thought of a solution, thanked the doctor for the advice (which she never had a chance to give) and then marched off to carry out her newly created plan. The scene has actually been repeated on a number of shows: Patient walks in with a desperate problem, talks so quickly the therapist never gets in a word, then rushes out, having come up with their own solution to their problems and feeling much better.

One of the interesting things about this dynamic is that it is also common to prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 reads, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (NLT). Paul urges us, tell God what you need and then thank God for what he's done already and you will have peace. Much of the reason for that peace is the process of turning your problems over to God and then thinking about all the ways God has already dealt with your problems. When we force ourselves to remember how God has intervened in the past, it helps us to trust God in the here and now. The effect is even more profound when we are thinking about God's provision in God's presence by directly thanking him for it.

I'm not a big fan of most scripted prayers, but I do believe in being intentional with our prayers. One of the best things we can do, especially when we are worried, is to turn our concerns over to God and then to thank him for all the things God has done. By doing so we remind ourselves that God really is watching out for us, that God really does have the power to answer our prayers, and we ground ourselves in the reality of God's loving care for us. When we're grounded in God's loving care, it is really hard for us to worry about anything.

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Suggested Reading: Judges 16:4-21 or Judges 16 (the whole Samson and Delilah story) I may lose some readers over this statement, but.....