Pete Greig, instigator of the 24-7 prayer movement, reveals how we can live a life of greater gratitude.
We have some wealthy friends. Is that how you describe them? Well they go on nicer holidays than we do! Once they asked if we wanted to go away with them. They’d hired out a catamaran off the coast of Croatia and planned to sail around the Adriatic Sea. I’m so sorry to say this but it was as good as it sounds.
One night was just perfect. We dropped the anchor in a bay as the sun was setting. The water was like a mirror. We were sitting on the back of the boat ready to eat dinner when all of a sudden, a great cloud of mosquitoes appeared in the air. I bet some of you are reading this, so burnt out that you’re thinking – good, I’m glad that happened to you.
Well, my friend James rose one hand in the air and immediately began to pray. He closed his eyes and rebuked the mosquitoes in the name of Jesus. Everyone started joining in. My wife, my kids, his family. And I’m sitting there thinking that this is such a stupid prayer. I thought this was a dumb prayer for three reasons….
The first reason that this was a dumb prayer was that mosquitoes are probably important for the environment or the ecology or something? They’re there for a reason. The second reason is that as God is busy answering prayers about the Middle East or another big crisis he’ll be far too busy to be bothered about the al fresco dining arrangements of posh people on a yacht in the Adriatic Sea. The third reason that this was a stupid prayer was that my kids were mightily joining in. And so, when (not if) the mosquitoes did not disappear, my kids would conclude that prayer does not work, their old man had wasted his life, and then they’d grow up and become Satanists.
I’m sitting there thinking ‘this is stupid.’ And then (I’m actually still a little cross about this), the moment that they said ‘Amen’ the gentlest wind rose up and blew the mosquitoes away. Revival then breaks out on this boat. Everyone’s saying ‘Thank you God. Thank you that you care about us.’ I’m sat there saying, ‘are you kidding me God? Some of the prayers that have not been answered and yet you do this?’
I don’t know for sure if this was a miracle or a meteorological fluke disguised as a miracle but what I do know is that when you pray for the small things in life, you live life with a greater gratitude. If you only pray for the big important things then you’ll only occasionally give thanks to God. It’s important to walk and talk the details of your life with God so that you are able to continually thank him.
The greatest theological question of our time is clearly this – should you pray for a parking space? Well, I believe that the answer is yes. If you pray for parking spaces, you get to be that joyful and crazy person who gives thanks to God for that small square of concrete outside of Asda on a wet November afternoon. We all want to be that person.
As it says in Philippians 4:4, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I’ll say it again rejoice!’
The more you pray about, the more you get to live your life with a greater gratitude.
Without prayer we’re just providing the marketing for a religious enterprise. In prayer we’re invited to walk and talk with God in daily conversation. We’re told in Genesis that before the fall, Adam and Eve would walk and talk with God every day. What did they talk about? Most of us, if we’re honest, only pray about problems. Sin, sickness and suffering. Adam and Eve must have talked to God about ordinary stuff. Your prayer life will be at its best when you continually talk to God about the small things.
One day there will be no more sin, sickness or suffering. But there will still be you and God. So, what will you talk to him about? This is a real relationship and so it’s entirely appropriate to say ‘take away the mosquitoes.’
This is an edited version of a talk given at our Message Conference 2019. Listen to the full talk online visit message.org.uk/podcast