We’ve all been there. We’ve all been lost in situations where we were totally helpless, completely hopeless and utterly terrified. It might have been in the midst of loved one’s untreatable illness. Or we may have been navigating a devastating financial loss. Perhaps it was in the midst of a heart-wrenching relationship struggle. No matter the circumstances, we have found ourselves desperate and desolate and thinking, “I guess all we can do is pray.”
We pray, it seems, as our last resort. We turn to it because everything else has failed and there are no more rabbits in the hat. We get to a point when we reluctantly admit human effort and wisdom is not enough. And so we pray with a vague hope that a benevolent super-powered being will do what we can not.
We prayed first, not last? What if we approached prayer as if it were the key ingredient to the solution, not just the after-thought? What if we were to pray as though we were seeking the help of a God who loves us and who has both the compassion and the power to intervene?
In the Gospels we read over and over how individuals brought their needs to Jesus:the disciples and their questions, the families with their children. They came to him, not with wobbly wishes but with confident expectations. And Jesus responded with kindness and help.
When we find ourselves in these horrid situations our first response can and should be to pray. When we pray we admit that we are finite and needy, and we cry out to one who is infinite and all-sufficient. We express our helplessness to the one who is ever-present in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). And then we wait and watch and trust.
Be aware. God’s answers are rarely on our time schedule and often not like anything we could have imaged. Sometimes the answer is not what we would have chosen: he lets our dear one die to relieve their suffering, he allows us to go through bankruptcy to deliver us from greed, he reveals our selfishness to bring about humility through the loss of a relationship. Other times, God’s response is surprisingly swift and beautiful. Always it is from a heart of love.
Jesus knew our tendency to try everything else first before we pray. He encouraged his followers to break out of that pattern and to go to God first, not last. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his  righteousness…” Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬