By Tim Walker
Prayer—The Key Ingredient
My friends and family know how much I love to cook—trying new recipes or even making up my own. With a degree from William Carey University in chemistry, I often joke with those friends that the only place I ever actually truly practiced chemistry is in the kitchen. Cooking is pure chemistry in so many ways!
As many a chef or cook would note, often one key ingredient makes a good dish great. I am learning more so than ever, that in our Christian walk, this ingredient is prayer.
Being reared in a fine Christian home in Wiggins, MS, I grew up with prayer as an active part of my family life. My grandfather was a Baptist pastor for 50 years, and he and my grandmother instilled the importance of prayer in their children. I grew up hearing my grandfather pray numerous times in either a church service or family gathering. My dad prayed aloud at evening dinner as he asked the blessing for my mother’s delicious meal. I vividly remember them leading our family in prayer during family devotional times, and remember praying about various decisions and opportunities in my own life, especially during high school and college.
However, I did not always pray as earnestly as I should have, so I missed that whispering voice of guidance along the way, relying on my own strength and abilities in what I had determined was God’s will.
Being a parent now of teenagers, plus working hard to help guide a music ministry in our church, I quickly began to realize my humbling limitations—that fine line that seemingly exists between faith and fear. I found myself looking in the mirror in the mornings and wondering how I would get through this day. When I was in medical school, we were challenged to look in the mirror in the morning and say, “Good morning. I’m Dr. Walker.” Now this act had no practical academic application, but was indeed the practice of saying something confidently—even as a medical student I was expected to exhibit confidence with each patient interaction. What changed?
The difference between medical school and this coexisting life of parenting and ministry, for me, is an assignment beyond my own ability. My own talents, experiences and gifts were no longer enough. A key ingredient was desperately missing.
Earlier this spring, I was reading the book Whisper by Mark Batterson when a quote seemed to spring off the page as the missing key ingredient. Mark states, “Prayer is the difference between the best we can do and the best God can do.”
How had I allowed myself to miss this? I had not stopped praying, but I was not desperately and earnestly doing so. That day, that moment, changed my perspective and my intentionality. James hits the nail on the head in 5:16 when he says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Since this humble reminder of my need for intentional prayer in my life, I concluded that I had to quit putting God in a box and realize, as Mark Batterson later points out, that God still speaks light into darkness, still brings order out of chaos and still makes beauty out of ashes.
Listening to others who seek God is no substitute for yearning for Him yourself. Whatever hill you are climbing in your faith walk, remember there is one key ingredient that you should never run out of as it is always within a moment’s grasp. Prayer—it truly is the difference between what you can do and what God can do. Be encouraged, believer.
Tim Walker is the Associate Minister of Music-Arts at First Baptist Jackson. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.949.1950.