I heard myself say it in response to a terrible crisis. I had told them I would pray and then I followed it with “I wish I could do more.”
A field partner had told me that the pastor she worked with had just been kidnapped standing right in front of his church. Immediately I prayed and then got a message out to all of our leadership so that people all around the world were interceding on his behalf. What an incredible picture of the Body of Christ. “I wish I could do more.” I have said this phrase a million times when I have felt helpless in the face of calamity. But this time God stopped me in my tracks. Who was I to wish that I could do more than God Almighty himself could accomplish? All of a sudden it sounded crazy in my ears.
I kept thinking of God’s response to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” This sweet pastor, this child of God, was being watched over by his heavenly Father. While his captors were convinced that his life was in their hands, they were so wrong. “Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his?” I was overwhelmed with God’s presence. I had to stop those ridiculous words that made it sound like I could ever have done anything.
As I continued praying for this pastor over the next day, the Lord directed me to Psalm 91. I prayed it quietly, I prayed it with tears and groaning, I prayed it out loud, and each time I prayed, I knew that I was joining with the only hope we all have, God our Savior. I was reminded of another brother who had been kidnapped, held and tortured for six months. Following his release he was determining whether he should leave that country or not, but instead of looking for direction from us, he went camping for three days to pray and seek God on this decision. At the end of the third day he received his answer, God spoke to him and said “I am your refuge.” He knew that he would stay. Psalm 91:2 says “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”
I remember walking and talking with my Dad as he was battling lung cancer. I felt so helpless. I wanted to do more. If anyone knew God could do a miracle and heal him, it was my Dad. He had experienced so many miraculous interventions in his life already that he knew God could also do this miracle. He said he felt like the Hebrew children standing right in front of the fiery furnace. He absolutely knew and believed that God could rescue him, but that even if he didn’t, he trusted and put his faith in God. This was all in God’s hands and he would give him the glory. God’s gift of peace. As I prayed following this conversation, I no longer felt compelled to do things but instead, my faith in God and his promises was resolute.
I have finally realized that when I say “I wish I could do more” that it discounts the most powerful thing I could do. Pray. That by praying I am joining forces with God, the creator of heaven and earth. Not only can he speak stars into existence, but he knows the very hairs on my head. He knew us before we were born and he knows the deep love, fears and cries of our hearts. As we pray and trust God, he directs our prayers into his will and we begin to see and believe how he is working.
When I prayed for my Dad, the Lord showed me that he would be taking him home. When I prayed for my brother that was held for 6 months, the night before he was released the Lord kept me up the entire night praying and showing me that something would be changing the next day. Even though I did not know the outcome, I knew our prayers were being answered and believed that something would happen the next day. And he was released!
This time the Lord directed me to Psalm 91. As I prayed for this pastor, the Lord made it clear that he would rescue him, and that not only would he be freed but others also. I prayed that God’s peace would fill him and that it would be a testimony to those who held him. As I connected with others also praying, they were all praying and hearing these same things. Faith increased as prayers rang out! The next morning the police were led to a safe house and rescued not only him, but all those that were being held. Hallelujah!
Sometimes the Lord heals and sometimes he does not. Sometimes the Lord rescues and sometimes he does not. Sometimes the Lord preserves life and sometimes he does not. In every situation, I am reminded that the most powerful thing I can do is to join in prayer.
As you hear stories and requests from around the world, you may feel helpless, but this is just not true. These situations are opportunities to realize what is always true, that prayer is the most powerful tool available to us. As we intercede we draw near to God and he draws near to us. Our faith increases even in those times that we question God as we pray. And the world is changed and we are changed. James reminds us in 5:16 “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”
Never wish that you could do more.
I have been feeling like Job as I look at that ridiculous phrase I uttered and I am compelled to put my hand over my mouth.
These are things more wonderful than I can understand.
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.
–Sheryl Shaw, North America Director