By: Catharine Corder
Several years ago, a question was posed in our small group: What is the point of prayer? This person confessed he no longer promised to pray for others because he, like all of us, had painfully seen those who weren’t healed. He couldn’t reconcile this with a real and present God. Was he just offering false hope?
I grapple with these kinds of questions, too. And the answers I find are often not satisfying. When this friend posed this question, our group had been meeting weekly for prayer and Bible study for years, but I found myself telling a story I hadn’t told them, or anyone, before.
In the fall of 1999, I was a grad student at Texas A&M. On the night bonfire fell, I left my building about 2:30 in the morning carrying my drafting equipment back to my car, which I’d parked next to bonfire because my usual lot was full. Crossing the street that night, I saw the lights shining on the stack and the students who were on top. I stopped to watch because I’d never seen it before and was struck with a deep urgency to pray for their safety. I started to pray, but the urgency built—I remember thinking “okay, okay, God,” and taking off my backpack, setting down all the drafting supplies, and praying under the streetlight. Then, I went to my car and pulled out of the parking lot. Stack fell a few minutes later but I didn’t know until the next morning.
What was the point of my prayer that night? In our small group I found myself confessing that I didn’t understand everything about prayer or that night, but I knew two things: God was very present in that moment of tragedy, and he didn’t let me walk past those young people as though it were any other night in their lives. Prayer brings us into each other’s experiences. It doesn’t let us orbit around each other engrossed in our own agendas. It makes us stop, honor each other, and make room for each other in our lives. God calls out to us, and we respond, and through this He brings us together as well.