While I was in Harlem one of the things we did was go on a prayer walk throughout the community, we made some stops and prayed for the places we stopped at, that they would be accepting of everyone, that they would only be used for good, that somehow people could connect with God when they visited each place, and that the city would continue to grow and thrive in positive ways. The stops included a church, a park, and 125th St, which was the main area of Harlem with stores and businesses. Prayer is not a new idea to me. I’ve prayed countless times in my life. What I didn’t realize is that I was often distracted from my faith. Not even in bad ways, I was distracted by things like school, work, and family. All of these aspects of my life are necessary but as I look back, even just a year ago, I found my prayers were often cries for help, a last resort when my earthly attempts to solve my problems had failed. The prayer walk allowed me to realize the power of prayer. The problems in Harlem were big. A lot of challenges that our team encountered were the feelings of not being able to do enough. Although we did our best, the community was still struggling with large populations of homelessness and poverty. We never expected to be able to go for a week and miraculously solve every problem but a feeling of sadness came over us as we realized the people we helped feed each day were still going to be hungry when we left and returned to Ohio. I learned that praying should happen when times are really good, as well as when we are in need of the most help. This seems obvious but I think it is more difficult to find the time/need to pray when we feel very happy/blessed. God deserves thanks! He is the creator of every good thing. Every good thing. I can’t even begin to think of every good thing God has placed in my life but I know it is much more than I could ever thank Him for. My goal is to try harder though.
Not only did I realize the power in giving God thanks but also in asking for help. As humans, we are hesitant to ask for help, from anyone. Society and maybe even people in our own lives lead us to believe that we are weak if we can’t do something on our own. For me, it wasn’t so much that I thought I didn’t need help, but that I didn’t ask for it enough. Praying should be the first thing I do in attempting to solve a problem/struggle, not the last. I am trying harder to pray before things I know will be challenging. Overall, I am trying harder to pray MORE. The truth is that the world has really big problems and although we can make a difference, we can’t solve them by ourselves.
The scope of things we can pray for is infinite. God wants to hear our voice, He knows we live in a fallen creation and He knows that we can’t do it alone. That was another thing Harlem taught me, I never thought to pray over building for the future that lies ahead. I never though to pray in a park that it would not be known as a dangerous place but that people would see God in the beautiful nature. Sometimes we need reminded of that, that we can pray about everything, there is no aspect of life that God doesn’t want to be a part of.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4 : 6-7