What can we learn about prayer from the Game of Life?
In 2003, we had just relocated to a suburb of Indianapolis with our young family. Our three kids at the time were ages 7, 4 & 1. Together we lived in a small apartment and all was well until we had neighbors move in beneath us who were heavy chain smokers. Soon, everything we had smelled like smoke as the fumes permeated the gaps between their apartment and ours.
We desperately wanted to move out of our apartment and into a home of our own. However, I had just taken a new job within the IT field and didn’t have much employment history as I had been previously self-employed. Furthermore, to make matters worse we didn’t have much credit to our name nor the full down-payment that was required. We quickly discovered that we faced many obstacles that prevented us from purchasing our dream home.
But what were we to do? Continue staying in our apartment or try and step out in faith.
We felt strongly that we were to involve our children in praying for our home and to use this as a life lesson. So, I was inspired to create a game board, much like the Game of Life. I drew a flowing pathway replete with various obstacles like a huge brick wall or boulders; and at the end of the path was a cutout of the home we hoped to purchase. Then we took photos of each family member and made game pieces.
With all our game pieces in place, we began praying as a family in agreement for the first obstacle to be removed. Every night we prayed over that game board until finally, the first obstacle was cleared! We celebrated by thanking God for this first minor victory and then moved the pieces along the board to the next obstacle and continued praying each night.
After weeks of praying, several other obstacles were cleared and everything was looking up for us. But just like the Game of Life, we hit a snag in our financing and had to restart one of the steps over. Disappointed, we moved the game pieces back to a previous spot but we didn’t give up praying in the face of adversity. Over the course time, as we prayed we saw every obstacle removed and months later we were able to finally move into our dream home.
Prayer and Coincidences
So, was this really God answering prayer or can it all be simply explained as coincidences? Wouldn’t our finances, application and other hurdles not have been cleared without prayer?
I like what Archbishop William Temple says on the subject of prayer and coincidences:
“When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.”
To which modern day author N.T. Wright adds:
“That reminds me of the great golfer who, when someone accused him of being lucky agreed, but commented that he’d noticed that the more he practiced the the luckier he got.”
N.T. Wright – Paul For Everyone.
In my own life, as I’ve prayed I have seen many coincidences occur. Doors inexplicably opened that shouldn’t have, job offers when I may not have been the most qualified candidate, financial breakthroughs and loved ones healed.
But I’ve also seen the personal, intimate side of prayer that is even greater than all the material things that it provides: I’ve received grace and courage to face my problems and demons; peace in the midst of life’s storms; strategy when I didn’t know what direction to take; and encouragement when I’ve been overwhelmed with despair.
While I am still learning and often forget the benefits of prayer, I’m reminded what R.A. Torrey says:
“Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer.”
“Prayer is the means that God has appointed for our receiving mercy and obtaining grace to help in time of need.”
But so often we fail to pray or if we do pray, our prayers are not persistent. Torrey laments that:
“How seldom we pray things through! How often [we] get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer and just let go…” He reminds us that James 4:2 states very succinctly: “You have not because you ask not.”
So, what are you praying for?
Of course, life is not a game. It is so much more than that. But we can take comfort that we are not alone. No matter what you are struggling with, what you are waiting for or are in need of, bring it to God in the place of prayer.
Be persistent, press through and don’t give up!
In time, you too will see coincidences occur in your life!