Running in Circles

by Sandra Julian Barker

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10 NKJV

Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles in your prayer life?

I’m reminded of the time I watched my grandson Storm playing Duck, Duck, Goose with a group of kids at Vacation Bible School. The kids sat in a circle while Storm chased a boy around the outside of the circle, trying to catch him before he reached a safe opening to land. Storm ran on the slippery gym floor for all he was worth, but never caught the other boy. 

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m running around in circles on a slippery floor.

We have such an awesome God who offers us the privilege of prayer — the ability to actually talk with the One who created the entire universe and beyond, to express our feelings and needs to Him, and to have Him listen and respond. When you think about all that, it’s beyond amazing!

Yet, if you’re like me, you don’t really understand the whole process and how it works. When Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24 NKJV), what does that really mean? Does it mean that I can ask God for healing for my loved one with cancer and he’ll definitely be healed? Does it mean I can ask God for answers to various other needs and always expect a happy outcome?

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in the affirmative immediately, other times there is a need for extended prayer for the thing before He gives it to us. Then, there are times He answers with an entirely different outcome than what we asked or wished for. Those are the times we question and, in some cases, we might wonder if our prayers even matter at all!

One day I lamented to God, “I just don’t understand prayer!”

I felt Him lovingly answer my spirit, You don’t have to understand, you just have to obey and pray.

I actually felt relieved that I didn’t have to understand the process (because trying to understand always brings on a “circle moment”). I just needed to obey God’s directive to pray and trust Him to handle the outcome.

That old song, Trust and Obey, is so relevant here. We need to obey God’s directive to pray—which is plainly taught throughout His Word—and then trust His loving heart to know what is best for us on this sinful earth.

I believe the verse, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV), reveals a lot to us about the power of prayer. Even so, we should never forget the verse in Isaiah 45:12-13 (NKJV) that reminds us of the sovereignty of God:  “I have made the earth, and created man on it…and I will direct all his ways…”

There will always be times we get caught in a circle while we remain in this world (which is itself a circle), but God has promised that He provides a safe landing place for us. I always come back to the wise verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Thank you, Lord for the awesome privilege of prayer, and for your patience with us when we run around in circles. Help us to land in your arms of love and grace and peace. And help us to always trust and obey.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Sandra Julian Barker is the author of more than a dozen books, numerous magazine articles and a story in the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.” She has a passion for sharing the love of Christ, encouraging hope and helping others seek God’s path of purpose in their lives.

Sandra’s latest book includes her own story of God’s grace in the face of great tragedy. She blogs at sandra-ramblingrose.blogspot.com/ and is in ministry with womenvictorious.com.

Join the conversation: For what is God asking you to trust Him?

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