“Ohmigosh I am soooo annoyed!” I ranted to my roommate Jill.
“I mean, seriously? I just… really really don’t like her!” Jill nodded her head, sympathetically agreeing with me.
*sigh* “I guess you know what this means,” I said. “We have to pray.”
Excuse me, what?!
I know what you’re thinking, based on the above conversation, you’d think the last thing I’d want to do for a person I don’t like is pray for them. And I don’t. But here’s the thing, I learned a long time ago that beyond my own emotions and how I might feel about a particular individual, that doesn’t change the fact that they are still loved by God.
So following that thought, if I choose to call myself a Christian and follow the commandment to “love others as I [God] have loved you,” (John 13:34) then no matter how much someone grates on my nerves, I am still called to love them. How do I do that? The answer is simple: I pray.
Prayer changes hearts
When it comes to situations or people I don’t like, I usually react very much like a child. I run to Dad, complain and ask Him to fix it. Instead of spending too much ranting to friends who can’t do much to help, I like to go right to the big Boss, since there is no problem too big for Him to fix. So I pray and talk and pray some more, and then something changes. But here’s the surprising thing, the change doesn’t happen in the person I’m praying about, it happens in me.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your old heart of stone and give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and help you to keep my laws.”
And it’s really true. Prayer, I’ve found has helped to change my perspective on a variety of things. It has reminded me that before I get on a high horse, everyone’s going through something, and they are important too. Prayer helps me to see people the way God sees them, instead of through a lens of preconceived notions and formed opinions.
Prayer is also the reason why I think some of the people I used to not like, are now people I call friends.
Prayer changes attitudes
One of the neat things about dealing with our problems through prayer is that just as prayer can change our hearts, it can also change our attitudes towards things. Prayer opens our eyes to the fact that God “has been doing [things] in secret and behind the scenes all along.” (Ephesians 3:9 The Message)
Even though a lot of us already know that, we need to be reminded sometimes. And as prayer reminds us that God has an ultimate purpose and plan for all things, somehow that makes it a little easier to deal with, and helps us to keep a positive attitude, knowing that God will work everything out in the end.
Attitudes result in action
Just as the issues of life tend to flow from things already stirring in your heart (Proverbs 4:23), actions often result from attitudes we have about things and life in general. It is the key factor in whether we will give a project our 100% effort, choose to smile at someone, reach out and start a conversation or share a testimony and not keep quiet. It can and often is the foundation of how we will choose to live out our lives as Christians.
So the next time you’re faced with a tough situation, before you get too angry or upset about it, try praying about it consistently for a period of time and see what happens. Maybe the situation will change. Or maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a change, but it’ll be in your heart, your attitude and your actions.