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Don't Work Harder, Pray Smarter

Often we assume the position of working hard to fix our prodigal situation. We strategize how to intervene. We consult resources or experts that may help us or our loved one. We create scenarios in our mind to prepare us for hypothetical situations. We even rework situations from the past to prepare us for future interactions so they don’t end in the same disaster. This requires a lot of mental energy as we work through all of these things. We want to believe we are in control, but we really aren’t due to our prodigal’s unpredictable free will.  In all of this, we may shoot up arrow prayers that will bless our strategies and our plans. I know this was true for me. Can you relate?

We know little of our prodigal’s plans and wish we did. But we have one resource that can upset our loved ones plans without our involvement. God.

An interesting story came to mind as I contemplated how to pray smarter. In Numbers 22-26, Balaam was invited by Balak, (a wealthy king) to curse the Israeli forces. It appears Balak knew the power Balaam had to bring victory in war situations and wanted this power, which came from God, on his side. Balaam said initially said “no” to the lucrative offer after consulting God. Then another offer came with higher stakes. God gave the okay and Balaam traveled down to complete the task riding his donkey. Balaam made it clear He would only speak what God would tell him. But on the journey down with his donkey there were three situations where the donkey veered off course. Balaam became mad at the final one because the donkey sat down and would not move. He was embarrassed by the animal as He was on a “God” mission. Then the donkey spoke (Numbers 22:28-30) telling him of his loyalty to him. Suddenly the Lord opened up Balaam’s eyes and he saw the Angel of the Lord poised to kill him if he moved forward. Stunned, the angel gave him a warning, “Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your ways are contrary to me…If your donkey had not turned aside, I would have surely killed you right now” (Numbers 22:32-33 NASB). Immediately Balaam recognizes his sinful intentions, though not revealed outwardly. As a result of this crazy angelic encounter, he was ready to do a 180. Instead, God allowed him to move forward with a stern warning to speak only as directed.

Wow! Would God do such a thing to warn someone of the gravity of their obedience? Evidently yes. Balaam was given grace along with a warning. Balaam had a choice from that point forward; get into 100% alignment with God or give into the pressures of royalty. He chose the latter. Wouldn’t you if you had encountered an angel that threatened your life?

Can God do this for our loved one? Certainly! The challenge is, can we pray smarter and let God do the work?

  1. Praying smarter means recognizing that God knows the intentions of our prodigal’s heart and is working to confront them.

  2. Praying smarter means we can ask God for divine interventions to bring a reality check to the contrary ways of our loved one. He can even narrow their options so they have an encounter with Him!

  3. Interceding for our loved one to hear God’s voice and respond with a heart of humility and repentance is praying smarter.

  4. Praying smarter means we trust God with the unseen and rest as He works.

Father God, I know you see my loved one’s situation and how they are bent on heading their own direction. They are not used to hearing Your voice, but You have many ways to intervene and cause them to pause. Do what You need to do and use what You need to use to bring them to a halt. Let this intervention be so powerful and compelling that they recognize it as a wakeup call from You and not just a coincidence or obstacle to overcome. Prepare their heart to respond.  I trust You in knowing exactly how to do this to touch my prodigal. I give you thanks and praise in partnering with this adventure in prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen


Continue to pray smarter as above and rest from working harder.

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