When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, I sometimes pray.
Often, the next thing I’m aware of is the alarm going off in the morning. Other times, I pray and pray and pray, and then I start thinking about what I’m praying, and then … this.
A friend came to mind one night. I started praying. “Lord, be with So-and-So.” Then I stopped, struck by how frequently I begin prayers with a phrase that’s actually quite redundant.
Why do I always ask God to be with people, when He has promised over and over again in His Word that He already is exactly that?
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.” (Deut. 31:8)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
“When you pass through waters, I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
God is with us.
Whether we pray for Him to be or not. Whether we feel it or not. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we think we deserve it or not.
In good times and in bad, He is with us.
I know this is a whole lot of semantics. And trust me—if someone prays for me, and all she says is, “Lord, be with Lois today,” I am profoundly grateful.
But if I want to be more disciplined in prayer (which I do), I wonder if I should frame my words a little differently sometimes.
That night, as I lay there wide awake, I came up with some alternatives.
Instead of, “Lord, be with So-and-So …” I could say, “Lord, thank you for being with So-and-So.” Or, “Please help So-and-So to feel your presence today.” Or, “I don’t know how it’s possible for you to be with So-and-So in the middle of her pain, but you are, and you always will be.”
Clearly, this has more to do with the care with which I approach my prayers than it does with my actual words. There are times when, “Lord, be with So-and-So” is all I’ve got. In fact, sometimes I even stop at, “God, for So-and-So …,” trusting that the One who intercedes before the throne of Heaven on our behalf knows what my friend needs far better than I do. (Romans 8:26-27)
But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that there are other times when, “Lord, be with So-and-So” is just plain laziness on my part.
Nothing more, nothing less.
And when it comes to talking to my Heavenly Father about another member of our family, maybe I can do better than that.
P.S. An excerpt from this post is featured at Purposeful Faith today, along with a sampling of writing from other bloggers who participate in Kelly Balarie’s weekly linkup. If you’re in need of some mid-summer encouragement, you just might find it here. I’m also linking up this week with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.