People pray even in sophisticated places like the Silicon Valley. What are they praying about and what does it matter? A lot, actually. ♦
I attended a breakfast meeting this morning. It was not an intimate gathering – there were over 900 people at the breakfast. But they were having intimate conversations at their tables before and after listening to 3 compelling speakers share their powerful stories.
It was the Annual Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. This is locally organized with no affiliation with any church or national program. The objective is to gather annually (they also run smaller quarterly events) and present known and unknown speakers who share a common Christian faith and who operate here in the Silicon Valley in various roles in the marketplace.
And yes, there is prayer. At the beginning and at the end of the event. It’s not a church service, it’s a professional setting with people from all walks of life at various points along their own faith journey. From skeptics to seekers, to long-time believers, the ballroom event was filled with good spirit and engaging interactions.
While the topic of the morning was “Finding Joy in a Challenging World” what struck me was the recurring incidence of prayer in the stories of the 3 speakers. Of course this should not be surprising given the nature of the event. But think about it. Over 900 Silicon Valley people self-select to take a break from their own work/life to listen to like-wired people tell of their own fear, want, need, brokenness, and desperate reach out to the God they know well or were learning to know. Or suspected was out there.
And God responds every time. In ways that make sense, and in ways that don’t. In timely ways, and in long droughts of silence that only make sense in retrospect.
While it’s Biblically consistent, it is tangibly testing and frustrating. It is only in the prayerful surrender that we see that His light is still on.
And so it was for the speakers.
Prayer is the Great Equalizer
While the 3 speakers were impressively credentialed with right education, right jobs and stature, they each quickly established that even people who seem to have it all face major trials and tribulations.
One (Vanessa) rose out of dire poverty to achieve worldly success but who now also fights battles for local sex-trade victims. Her one story of uncanny prayer intercession for a young girl saved from the streets and her abuser gave but a glimpse of the spiritual prayer realm in which she operates. Incidentally, she sells computer networking equipment and software for a living. She’s also the mother of 7 children.
Another speaker (Diane) was born into a blessed life of wholesome Christian parents and privileged top-tier education and work/business success. But her cancer at age 12 and other personal and family ailments well into her professional Silicon Valley career brought her to her knees and to a redirected life. She admitted to her frustration and even anger at God at the time and then an eventual quiet acquiescence to the will and renewed life directed by the God of all creation.
The final speaker (Ron) was a more public figure touted as the retail genius behind the launch and managed growth of Apple’s global retail stores. Like Diane (later revealed to be his sister!), Ron’s substantial pedigree added to his Golden Boy image that came crashing down when he boldly “wanted” to expand his impact by taking on the CEO role of the troubled retail giant, JCPenny. His failure there over 17 months was a very public and humiliating defeat. Ironically (not), his re-engagement with God came during those troubling times. These days he’s successfully launched a new retail platform venture. With a new appreciation of the God of love, gifts and talents.
Prayer is Serious Business
I’m convinced that prayer is as accessible as the hand at the end of our arm. We are subject however to our own misconceptions about how this works. Our fits and starts, highs and lows, wins and losses in life will often dictate our interpretation of the power of prayer, leaving us damaged goods on the side of the spiritual road, or victors on our own manufactured or self-perceived medal stand.
As this morning’s 3 speakers highlighted, it’s not about our physical fate in this broken world. It’s about our own brokenness before a loving God who wants to mold us for His purposes that go way beyond our own view and thinking.
And that point is the point of real success, and peace, and life, and joy.
Are you finding real joy in a challenging world?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7