How many more opportunities will you let slip away?
That was the question which hit me in the circuit breaker, as the busyness and noise of the days before faded away. God then began to remind me of all the opportunities He gave me to reach out to my non-believing friends through prayer.
And as I reflected, I saw that it was I who had chickened out and abandoned the assignment!
Thing is, whenever I think of praying for my friends, I get really excited. But when I’m right there sitting across the table from them during lunchtime, trying to find an opening in the conversation, the waves of nervousness just seem to completely bury that excitement…
There was this one time when my friend was feeling unwell. I sat across from her watching her, pale-faced, pushing food around her plate with shaky hands.
I remember looking around at the lunchtime crowd and talking to God after having said a short prayer in my heart: “I’ll pray for her after we finish eating and go back to the second floor. I know there’s a bench there and it’ll be quiet and free from disturbance. Please orchestrate such an arrangement.”
Alas, by the time we got back to school, lesson was about to start and my friend waved goodbye and went straight to her classroom as I carried on past the second-floor bench to my classroom on the third floor.
My excuse to find a better place and time was simply borne out of fear.
What I failed to realise was that the arrangement God had orchestrated was right when I sat down with her at lunch!
My excuse to find a better place and time was simply borne out of fear. I was afraid of losing face if I was turned down, and being embarrassed if I fumbled over words in my prayer. But that was actually pride getting in the way.
God can work in any environment, no matter how noisy and how many people are watching. In fact, He can be glorified even greater when there are more witnesses. In those moments, I had placed my comfort and convenience above God’s will and ways.
And honestly, I realise that if my focus was on my ability and performance, even if I did pray for my friend, I wouldn’t be spirit-led and an ineffective prayer would follow anyway.
Another time, this same friend was having cramps. I prayed in my heart and gave her medication which eased her symptoms.
This time, however, the canteen was so empty and quiet at that time that none of my usual justifications could stand.
So many times have I missed the opportunity to point her to God as our comfort and healer. I gave in to my fear of man instead and just prayed silently.
And even when my prayers do get answered later on, I would have already denied my friends of an experience and encounter with God and opened the door to the enemy’s lies – that it was just pure coincidence and sheer luck.
Even if I were to try and convince them I had indeed prayed for them, it would not beat hearing the prayer for themselves and having God speak to them personally through my words.
IT’S GOTTA SOUND HOLY
But God also reminded me of my junior college days, when I first became a Christian.
I had prayed for an injured classmate so readily and intensely that I didn’t even realise the rest of the class had come back from their break!
Despite the fact that I saw myself as a “weekend Christian” at that point of time, He reminded me of the childlike faith and courage I had when I was a new believer – even though I didn’t have all the words!
But over time, as I grew spiritually and learnt more about prayer, I began to become hyper-conscious about how fluent I was in praying and the kind of language I used.
And in doing so, I had forgotten that God simply looks at the heart when we pray.
Perhaps things had gotten that way in my prayer life because of the comparisons I would make with others who seemed to be better with words than I’ll ever be.
Whatever the case, some of the genuineness and sincerity had been replaced by an unhealthy kind of striving in my prayer life.
HIDING BEHIND SCREENS
Because of the limitations imposed by the pandemic situation, I have been sending my friends prayers through WhatsApp and Telegram for the past few months.
And honestly, it’s easy to get used to doing things at my own time and space.
As such, in this season when so much of our communication takes place online, I often find myself taking the easy way out and withholding prayers till I can get home and take the time to type them all out.
All so I can perfect the phrasing and vocabulary, and proofread it a thousand times before sending it out!
But now as restrictions lift, I’m realising that there are new opportunities to do God’s work out there.
I have to be prepared to be inconvenienced by the Holy Spirit. I want to be raring to go whether or not I’m in an environment I prefer!
How many more opportunities will you let slip away?
Going forward, my answer to God’s question is that I will make an effort to treasure every opportunity. I don’t want to miss any more opportunities from God.
My hope is to follow through with these changes when the new semester starts and I get to meet my friends face-to-face again. I know that I’m still going to struggle and fail at times.
And while God has grace for that, I pray I will persevere and seize the opportunities as they come.
THINK + TALK
- Think of someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to.
- When was the last time you prayed for this person?
- This week, tell the person he or she came to mind. Ask how you can pray for him or her.