This is not me, but if I ever got a tattoo,
it would be spread across my back like this.
A few nights ago, I was lying in bed and twinged my spine as I turned over. I've done this before and knew that I was up for several days of pain--and for once it occurred to me to pray immediately. So I asked God, if it was His will, to help heal my back. Then I settled myself into a more comfortable position and went to sleep.
Come the morning, it still hurt, but not nearly as much as it usually did. That night I got the idea that we should sleep sideways across the bed instead of the usual 'up and down' position (our bed has a slope toward the middle, so we're constantly rolling down the slope and waking up in the little hollow). My back thanked me for it, and the next day, did not hurt at all. Night-time brought a bit of the pain back, but it healed remarkably quickly compared to the other times I've done this. One day compared to the usual three or four.
So of course, much thanks was given to God.
This got me thinking about the power and role of prayer in our lives. I think as Christians, many of us have a tendency to pray for help and wait... and wait... and wait for the prayer to be answered, and often the lack of any developments we take as a 'no'. Sometimes I wonder if God is trying to speak to us and tell us what we can do to change the situation, but the buzzing sound of our waiting is blocking us from hearing His voice.
Somewhere in my mind, the formula that 'makes sense' for prayer requests is:
Request + God's willingness + God's call to action + Our obedient response to this call = Prayer granted (often not in the way we want--but in a way far more beneficial to us and to God's greater glory.)
And at another level, I think God grants our prayer requests for a change to our circumstances by asking us to change. When we change, our perspective changes, and thus though the outward circumstances might remain the same, our view of them is entirely different. Thus our circumstances have been transformed by the renewing of our minds (if you don't mind me taking that verse out of context). This often naturally leads to the idea of a very appropriate and beneficial course of action appearing out of nowhere. My own (rather mundane) example being that I could have kept sleeping as normal and the slope of the bed would have lengthened the healing time, but instead I answered the idea planted into my mind that I should just alter my sleeping position.
There was a time when I kept asking God to change others, and nothing seemed to happen... only when I started looking at myself and my own attitudes and realised how much needed to change in myself, did things begin to change. Perhaps this is why Jesus told us to look at the plank in our eyes before we could clearly see to remove the speck in others. Of course hypocrisy is the main point of that verse, but it's curious that Jesus chose to illustrate this hypocrisy by pointing out how our vision of others is obscured by our own sin.
Each time I find myself judging others and wanting them to change for my own selfish reasons, I hope and pray that God will remind me of this plank, and that a change in position might be all I need. Even the most mundane, quiet and invisible change can lead to great help and healing.
And now that my back is better, perhaps I can even do some planking. :)