We just... prayed.
I have this friend. He's been majoring in something that isn't his passion. So he fasts. For two days, he chooses not to eat or speak. Then he prays about it all, and God seems to give him an answer. It's an affirmation that he is free to pursue another major.
Two days later, he eats lunch with his parents, and everything comes apart. His parents, though Christian, can't understand why he spends so much time in prayer or fellowship. Why would he allow a simple prayer, a simple feeling, to throw off his path to academic and career success? Rather than affirming him, they take every Biblical principle and turned it against him.
When I meet him that night, he is in such pain and sadness that all I can do is hold him and listen. He demands from God, through tears and sobbing, to know if He is still the God who saved him. He demands to know if He is still the God who rescued him from depression. How, then, could they tell him not to seek after God? We pray like crazy that night over his identity as a child of the Lord.
We just... kept praying.
A few days later, we meet again for our ministry team. As we pray over one another, he struggles. He lays hands on the people we're praying for, says a quick word, and stops because he can't seem to pray. There's no more sadness left. He's just so angry, he says.
My apartment's lounge, nothing more than just a meeting space moments earlier, becomes a war room. We surround our brother in prayer. For an hour, we do nothing but pray. Our voices rise and fall in concert as though directed by the Spirit. There are individuals who speak visions and truths over him. I share with him my own.
There is only one prayer that comes from my mouth. I feel compelled to pray for God to restore the identity of His son. Others pray for more things. We pray until we can't pray for much longer.
A call comes through to our friend's phone. It's his mom.
This must be the moment, we all say to ourselves. We prayed, and God will answer! So we listen to the conversation play out. Our friend is bold as he tell his parents about how hurt he is, his present circumstances, and what he wants to do. I hear the parents bitterly arguing back. I listen as coldness sets into my friend's voice as he realizes he's getting nowhere. God will make you suffer if you follow Him, his father says, that's why you must continue down this road despite it's hardship.
We stopped praying.
What more could we do for the night? God wouldn't heal this in a night, we say to ourselves. All in good time, we assure him and each other. My friend sat there disheartened that all we seemed to have done for that night seemed to be for nothing. It was still the same old grievances.
Another call comes through. It's his dad.
“I want you to know that your father is a bad man,” his dad says. “I'm sorry for trying to take God's place in your life. I now know why you were in such pain. I want you to pursue your dreams, and I want you to know that I'm proud of you.”
We prayed for an hour that night. Our American faith taught us to say, "God will work in His own time" rather than "Our God is faithful, He will deliver us NOW." Yet the power of our prayers was not in the quality of our faith or the length of our prayers, but the One to whom we prayed. God changed things.
We're praying bigger now.
How big is your God? How real is your God? When you go to Urbana, BEFORE you go to Urbana, I want you to ask yourself that. Is your God bigger than your next exam? Is your God bigger than your current circumstances? Is your God real enough for your unbelieving friend? Is He big enough for all the nations to know?
We get so accustomed to seeing God in the small details of our lives. We get worked up when God makes Himself known in the smallest ways at our worship nights. And He's worth all of that. But our God is big. And He is also a good, good Father. He wants to meet us intimately and give us good gifts. So what will we ask?
We're meeting with sixteen thousand believers at Urbana this year to talk about missions, to talk about how we will join in with what God is doing across the world. So what will we ask? Let our God be big enough, our faith bold enough, to ask Him for the nations. And I believe He will give them to us.