The Power of Prayer

Why do there seem to be no, or very few, songs that deal with “the power of prayer,” even in the Christian community. Heck, we’re all familiar with “The Power of Love” from the 80’s, why don’t we sing about prayer. Maybe we just don’t get it. After all, even among hardcore Christians, by any other standard, prayer just seems to mundane, to boring, or even worse (and I’m guilty of this), we acknowledge the importance of prayer and yet we don’t make time to do it! Now since I am guilty of this myself, I can say that there is no excuse. God gives us time to glorify Him. We should fit our lives around quiet time, not fit quiet time into our lives.

But back to prayer. If you want to humble the most mature Christians, just bring up there prayer life. For example, at a conference 15 years ago, 17,000 members of a major denomination attended a conference on spiritual awakening. In other words, these were not just pew sitters. A survey of the members found that the average person prayed less than 5 minutes a day. At the same conference, there were 2,000 pastors who were asked the same question. They prayed, on average, less than 7 minutes a day. There are 1440 minutes in a day, so 7 minutes relates to less than 0.5%. And yet, one of the topics that Jesus often talked about was prayer.

Or, if we do pray about prayer, we have such ungrateful attitudes that our “prayers” basically insult God.

In the film Shenandoah, James Stewart plays a Virginia farmer during the Civil War. He’s a recent widower. And on her deathbed, his wife made him promise to raise their seven children as “good Christians.” He tries his best to honor her request. The movie begins with an unforgettable scene, with the family seated at the dinner table. Jimmy Stewart feels compelled to honor his wife’s wishes, so he begrudgingly prays this prayer: “Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel. But we thank you just the same for this food we’re about to eat. Amen.”

That is a brilliant portrayal of the unregenerate human heart. Unbelievers do often offer some grudging expression of thanks to God, but they assign much of the credit to their personal efforts or intelligence. And what they absolutely refuse to acknowledge is the smallest molecule of dependence on God for anything. ~Courtesy of Pastor Tom at Countryside Bible Church

Now I’m not going to tell you how to pray. There are websites that do better than I could with things like the PRAY or ACTS acrostic. Personally, I try to follow the example given by Jesus in Matthew 6.

But the Bible says we are called to be in prayer continuously. That is what a Christian life is supposed to look like. And yet, prayer isn’t a burden. God does not owe us prayer nor does He have to give it any power. But He has said in His Word that he 1) wants us to pray and 2) He will act on our prayers which gives them incredible power.

So if you refuse to spend time in prayer. Or your time in prayer just seems boring or tedious, you either are more distant from God than you may realize or flat out ignoring God.

So pray. Prayer is an encounter with God. Why wouldn’t you want to? Courtesy of AllAboutPrayer.org, here are just a few of the Biblical reasons and examples of why we pray:

Prayer is Effective
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

The Teachings of Jesus
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”‘” (Luke 18:9-14).

“‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins'” (Mark 11:22-25).

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

God bless.

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~ by unclewormwood on February 18, 2007.

3 Responses to “The Power of Prayer”

  1. Yeah, unclewormwood. Tonight’s hit-home message at church was about praying with passion and purpose. I know I need to be reminded.

    Your post reminds me of two stories I heard. Two accounts from God-fearing men who lived in a slightly different era of time. One is about a man who desired to get God’s direction for a situation he was facing. He said he went and laid down in a fallen tree until he could clear his mind and hear the still, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. He was there six days and then got his answer.

    This was in the late 1800’s. When you compare the quiet lives (almost boring to us) they lived it’s hard to imagine how long it would take us to get still and hear God.

    Fortunately, I believe God is fully aware of the noise we deal with every day and is always ready to talk. We just have to train ourselves to listen and always be “on” and ready to go.

    Another well-known man (I believe it was Smith Wigglesworth) (1900’s) said he didn’t pray more than fifteen minutes a day. And he didn’t go for more than fifteen minutes without praying.

    If we could commit to having an attitude of prayer throughout the day, I believe the Lord could do incredible things through our willingness to stay in-tune with the Holy Spirit.

    There’s a need for climbing in the prayer closet and “getting down” with God in the quiet, but we don’t have to stop there. We can change our world as we drive to work, eat lunch and even go to the bathroom. Hee. Hee. When we have a heart that is tuned in to the Holy Ghost we will always be in the right place at the right time and ready for every opportunity.

    Great post, unclewormwood.

  2. Yup. Prayer is one of those things that I don’t think we can ever hear enough. Even in my life, the testament of the legacy of prayer and its power is so amazing, and yet sometimes, even I forget.

    When my older sister was just a couple years old, she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She flew around the country, literally, but couldn’t find a doctor that could fix her. She was given 3 to 6 months to live- no chance for survival. The Church where my parents were attending at the time all got about to pray at the same time for my sister across the city one evening; the next day, she started getting better. She soon recovered and is now 27 and married. My parents have newspaper clippings titled “Miracle Baby.”

    This past week, my future father in law was in the hospital with a blot clot. Where is was is extremely dangerous, and a lot of time with blood clots, you never discover them in time. But a lot of people had him in prayer and he will be leaving the hospital tomorrow and the doctor’s believe he will be okay now.

    Now, some who read this will also say that they prayed for someone and they didn’t make it. I’ve also been in that camp. And I don’t know why God allows some to be healed and some not to be healed. But I know that He is Sovereign and has a plan.

    I heard a story about a man in the Vietnam war who was a devout Christian. He was shot and wounded and eventually died in the hospital. His parents just couldn’t fathom “Why??” One day, they had a knock on their door, and 2 service men answered. They said that by witnessing their son’s approach to death and the peace he had, that they knew the were missing something and became Christians. Just because we may not know the good that came out of a tragedy, doesn’t mean it doesn’t.

    But I couldn’t agree more with you about prayer. There are definitely times that we need to get in our closet and shut the door, so to speak, to drown out the world and hear God’s heart. But just because we’re not on our knees in prayer, doesn’t mean prayer can’t be on our hearts. I think we should really all live a lifetime of prayer where our very lives are a conversation with God.

    Oh, if we could just harness that power that God freely enables us through prayer, I think we truly do have a faith that could move a mountain.

  3. I don’t want to go into a huge debate on why some people get healed and others don’t. I do have to say God is no respecter of persons and His promises are true for every one of us. We determine how true we will let them be in our own lives.

    I believe the Word of God is packed with evidence that God wants us healthy and whole, living long, productive, purpose-filled lives for Him. Yet, my Grandmother, a Godly woman, died of a sudden illness. It wasn’t God who did it. My Grandmother didn’t choose to believe that part of the Bible applied to her life today and I stood by her grave site thanking God I had the assurance I would see her again . . . later. Maybe much later.

    Still, it makes me sad/mad. It was unnecessary. The thief comes but to steal, kill and destroy . . . God’s people perish for a lack of knowledge . . . the traditions of men make the Word of God of no effect. I can find each one of these scriptures in the Bible she read every day . . . but she didn’t know.

    The Bible says we have the power to move mountains in our mouth and heart. When/If we believe in our hearts what we say with our mouths it will be. Positive and negative. (Mark 11:23, 24) That’s the brilliant part. When we speak/pray what God’s word says about our circumstances then prayer takes on a new dimension. We pray the answer.

    Life is a rolling monologue with God and when our words express His thoughts and His desires that explosive force will change everything around us. More importantly, it will change us. I thank God for that.

    Good post, unclewormwood.

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