One aspect of Christianity I have wrestled through is the purpose of prayer. Depending on your theology, you might have wrestled through it as well. My big question came down to, “If God is all-knowing and entirely sovereign, what is the purpose of prayer?” It is pretty clear throughout scripture that God wants us to pray. We are to, “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” (Phil. 4:6). Furthermore, we have many examples from the early church illustrating their dedication to prayer (Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:6, etc.). Finally, even Jesus commanded us to pray both by example (Luke 6:12) and instruction (Matt. 6:9-13). Clearly, repeatedly, those who follow Jesus as a disciple of his are to pray. But why?
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who takes the stance that prayer puts God on the throne and allows Him to work in, through, and around our lives. He believes that through prayer we open ourselves to intervention from God, and while I do think he is correct (James 4:2 says we do not receive because we do not ask), I think there is something larger and more integral that is missing from this viewpoint.
Here’s the deal, if God is capable to complete His mission and follow through with His plan, He will ultimately do what He wants. The question is not if God will do His work, but how and through whom He will do it. I think the much better image for the purpose of prayer is instead of it putting God on the throne, it puts us at the foot of the throne, through the cross, subservient to the one who is truly in charge. Prayer fosters within us deeper faith in God’s plan through the expression of trust within every circumstance and situation. Through prayer, we actively give up our plans, ideas, and hopes, and submit them to him. It helps grow a further dependence on Jesus and focuses our walk with him.
For Rail//Line this has looked many different ways. We have prayed for providence, support, situations, the future, and so much more. As our projected opening date draws closer, we pray simply to do well that which God has put before us; to plan and prepare well. We pray for those we hope to impact through our work, that they might come to know Jesus. And, we pray for those who live outside of the South Side; that they see imago Dei within the people that live here. Through it all, we put our life’s work and trust in Jesus and hope to see His kingdom come more each day. Personally, I am praying for clarity and understanding as we continue to build out the job and leadership development program. Many of these small, intricate details are new to me, and so I am thankful for the huge amount of volunteer help I have received thus far. I am praying that by continuing to trust God, work hard, and commit my time and energy, that His mission will be faithfully brought around through Rail//Line. I desire His discernment and press into His guidance each day to continue moving forward to what really is the beginning of something new. Lastly, I am prayerful that Rail//Line hires and promotes community members living in and from our South Side community to raise up as leaders within the Rail//Line workplace, who are validated through the gospel lens, and are committed to continuing to serve their neighbors. My dream is that one-day Rail//Line will function as a wholly South Side organization, rich with diversity and story.