A few weeks ago my wife Julie and I joined hundreds of others from our community in a field in Lorson Ranch to pray for Gannon Stauch and his family. We listened to prayers from individuals. We heard beautiful prayers that were sung. We spent moments in silent prayer, and we gathered with others to raise our voices in prayer. For five weeks thousands of prayers have gone up to God on behalf of this precious boy and his family from all over the nation.
Now we face the news that Gannon will not be returning home or attending Grand Mountain School anymore. It makes one wonder if prayer made any difference at all.
Prayer has always been somewhat mysterious. It’s not like rubbing a magic lantern and having one’s greatest requests fulfilled. I’ve experienced some pretty astounding answers to prayers I’ve prayer, but I’ve also have many that did not bring the results I had hoped for. Prayer can be a means of moving the hand of God, but I’ve learned that even more than that, prayer is the means of connecting with the heart of God.
Prayer is how we become intimate with God, because the best way to establish intimacy is through conversation. If you want to really get to know someone, you spend time together talking and listening to one another. Jesus invited us to approach God in a way that was totally new to his followers in his day when he told them they could approach God as their Father. It’s true that God is Creator and Redeemer, but relationally he is a tender Father who has enormous love for his children.
For many of us, the only times we talk to God are when trouble arises. We find ourselves over our head or in a place we don’t know how to get out of. Then we ramble on and on to God about what we’d like him to do to change the situation.
I admit that I’m usually much more focused on what I want to say than I am in listening to what God has do say. To hear from God, one has to still the heart and mind because God doesn’t shout his words.
Sometimes the richest experiences of prayer come not when our prayers are quickly answered, but when they aren’t and we experience his presence through the storm. For all of you who have prayed for Gannon, for his family and for all those who tirelessly sought to solve this mystery, your prayers mattered. The family felt the overwhelming love of this community and from people all across this nation who cried out to God on their behalf.
We needed God these past several weeks. We need him even more for the days ahead. We must do as the Psalmist urges, Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62:8).