Textiles fascinate me. Before God called me into the field of Christian counselling, He gave me a wonderful exposure to the world of fabrics including woollen and silk carpets and accessories that are handwoven in different parts of India. I can write a little about vegetable dyed, block printed and hand painted Kalamkari fabrics; luxurious cotton sarees with intricately woven silk borders and rich palloos; and Pochampally ikat or Rajasthani tie & dye sarees. But silk carpets captured my heart.
The way woollen and silk carpets are woven in Bhadoi and other parts of Uttar Pradesh is fascinating. These carpets are rhythmically and painstakingly hand-knotted. A row of six to eight children are seated on a bench in front of an upright loom with warp yarn. An elderly man with a life-time of knotting experience has committed the designs to his memory in the form of songs containing all the code. As he sings the song, the children decode it and put the appropriate knot using a woollen yearn of a specific colour on the warp strings.
Their delicate but nimble fingers do the impossible. Looking at the carpet being woven either from the front or the back leaves you totally clueless as to what the final design would be. But once the knotting is over, an expert shearer clips away the extra wool/silk; it is washed and dried and then the intricate design emerges gloriously.
I believe our prayers must be woven, heart-knotted if you like, on the warp threads of our relationships with God and people. We must listen to the heart-song of God, seek the help of the Holy Spirit to decode it and learn to put those prayer knots. If we knot prayers without listening to the Master Weaver, the design of our life can be quite distorted and meaningless.Prayer is the soul of our relationship with God. Take away prayer and there is no soul in our relationship with Him.
Then our prayers are mere attempts to transact with God. “I will go to church regularly, please give me success in my exams or job,” could be one such transactional prayer. If you want to succeed in exams work hard at your studies. God is not going to write your exams. He is not going to work in your place at your job. So when you pray and ask God to help you in writing your exams well, He will first ask you to work hard and give it priority and burn the midnight oil right from the day one and not just the day before your exams. That’s what He will tell you when you pray.
If you pray and ask Him to give you promotion, He will ask you to work sincerely, honestly and creatively to add value to the company so that the superiors will be able to see the grace of God (your inclination for sincere and hard work) upon you and promote you to add more value to the company.
Prayer does not make you successful
The point I am making is that prayer does not make you successful but prayer can put you in touch with the powerhouse of God; it can align you to His purposes and help you to plan; and motivate you to give your one hundred percent. So weave prayers in every area of your life. Then God will add His grace (Genesis 39:3).
When you work hard like this you would imagine success is guaranteed. You believe you are sincere and righteous and therefore you will succeed; the other fellow is not and he will fail. But read the Psalmist’s lament (Psalm 73) and the ‘aha’ moment when He went to seek God in prayer for understanding (verse 17). He was flabbergasted that the wicked were prospering and the righteous were feeling that it was futile to be righteous.
But when the Psalmist went into the house of God, looked to God for understanding then he was given the insight of the sudden destruction of the wicked but the righteous would flourish under Him. Prayer to me is to set my heart in the direction of God, engage with Him to seek the truth and accept His revelation. Such prayers are woven into life experiences that usher us into higher spheres of faith.Prayer to me is to set my heart in the direction of God, engage with Him to seek the truth and accept His revelation.
A few years ago, a team of staff from the electricity department had come to install a power cable to a new house. It was running across from the electric pole on one side of the road to the side of the house. It was very interesting. They had a power cable properly clad in all-weather resistant polymer that would bring the power from the pole to the house. But they also started to couple a strong iron cable to the insulated power cable to give it support, prevent it from snapping and ensure smooth uninterrupted power supply.
Likewise, I believe our prayer too is an iron cable that ensures uninterrupted and unbroken power into all that we do to light up this world. Prayer will enable us to fight all sorts of storms in life and give us uninterrupted power to continue living for God. Let us couple or bind prayer to what we do to fulfil his purposes in our lives.
Jesus prayed early in the morning, before he took upon important assignments (appoint the twelve disciples), and spontaneously. Morning prayers, evening prayers and prayers at meal times are habits of prayer.
When we are about to embark on a new project and we pray, they are specific prayers. The spontaneous prayers are those that we shoot up to God, instinctively, naturally and spontaneously. Like breathing. You are on your way to meeting a difficult client and you are feeling anxious. Pause and pray. I don’t mean you stop driving the car, get out and pray but while you are driving pray with your eyes wide open to the traffic around.
You are trying out a new recipe and guests are expected. You are anxious. Pray as you stir the broth. You are giving a bath to your toddler and you wonder why he has not yet learnt to walk confidently. As you massage his legs pray that God would infuse strength into those legs. Weave prayers into your life – into all the Nano steps that life is made of.
Actionable prayers are powerful and world transforming.
The bible says that with our heart we believe and with our mouth we confess (Romans 10:9, 10). This is our faith. But also faith without works is dead. Therefore, it follows that a prayer of faith must motivate our legs to go where He wants us to go and our hands to do what He wants us to do.
We pray for a number of social needs and evils. But what are you doing about it? Have those prayers percolated into your hands and feet to do something about them. You bemoan the poor condition of roads. But have you prayed that God would move the bureaucrats to get the job done. Good if you have prayed. But have you done something about it? Call the Municipal office and register a complaint/request? Have you written to the Municipal Commissioner? Did you write to the Newspapers?
Finally, I know, when none of the above worked a group of senior citizens gathered and started filling up the pot holes themselves. Then the authorities took action. Prayer and works go together. Life would then be less bumpy.
As we grow in prayer, God will give us maturity to pray the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” That is the greatest prayer. We need the wisdom of God to know when to persist like the importunate widow, and surrender and yield like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
Weave prayers into your challenges. The immediate outcomes may be grim at times but the ultimate goal will be glorious. Such prayers are birthed in the hearts that are set in eternity. Become the clay the potter can design you into. ‘He set eternity in our hearts.” (Therefore,) “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Colossians 3:2).Become the clay the potter can design you into.