For years, there has been a sign in my kitchen with these three words: Prayer Changes Things. I’m sure I bought it at some home goods store, with little thought given to the significance of the words itself. Most likely, the sign matched my decor, fit the space I needed it to, and was affordable.
It may seem odd to say, but I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this sign for nearly five years. “Really?” you ask. It’s just a sign. (A cheap one at that.) But trust me….there have been times I’ve wanted to thrown this sign on the ground and stomp on it. I’ve wept at the sight of this sign. I’ve praised God for it. Before you have me committed for bipolar behavior towards a piece of wall art, let me explain.
You see, the minute (yes…minute) I was told my 15+ year marriage was over, my dazed eyes happened to wander over to those three little words: Prayer Changes Things. I stared transfixed on those words as my eyes began to well up with tears. “You’re kidding me about this prayer thing, right God?” I thought. Because trust me, there was no prayer in the world that would change what had been done. I stayed angry at that sign for a long time….well, maybe not the sign so much, but more about what it implied. Sometimes I mocked those words in disgust. Sometimes I avoided looking at them altogether. But more often than not, I started talking to God whenever I’d see them.
It wasn’t anything formal that started with “Dear God” and ended with “Amen”. I actually started talking TO God. WITH God. And it wasn’t always pretty. At times, my prayers were shouting matches with God. They were words of disbelief and shock. Words of surrender to an unknown future. Sometimes my prayers didn’t even have words. Just tears. I’m quite sure that’s when the Holy Spirit took over as Romans 8: 26 reminds us:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV)
Over the course of many months and years, I began to discover the crucial truth that was right before my eyes.
Prayer does, indeed, change things.
It changed my heart to be more loving and forgiving. It changed my thoughts to not be so filled with anger and hatred. It changed my attitude about what was important and what was not. But most of all, it changed my relationship with God to be a much more personal one. I learned not only to talk to God in a deeper way, but to actually be quiet and listen to God as well. (I’m still working on the listening part…and being patient in waiting for what God has to say.)
It’d be a nice way to end this blog by saying I never had another issue with my prayer sign again. But that would be far from the truth. Little did I know a day was coming when I would once again, look at that sign and begin to loathe those words even more than I did before when life seemingly fell apart all those years ago.
And that’s exactly what happened when I walked into my house just over nine short months ago….