The Power of Prayer

Author and speaker, John Ortberg challenged me when he stated, “Many people believe that their prayers won’t change God’s actions, so they ask themselves what the point is of praying.” It reminded me I am often much like the father in Mark 9. He cried out with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  This father new where to take his requests, and, just like me, he had all faith Christ could do anything, but he lacked the faith to believe Jesus would do it for him. When I read in Ortberg’s writings, “prayers of real human beings – like you and me – interrupt heaven,” I was shaken down in my soul. To think all of heaven pauses when we offer up our pleas to God moves me to dispute the enemy’s lie my prayers are not important.

I have not always valued the art of praying as a spiritual discipline. The impact your prayers can make on someone else’s life can be quite significant. I am a product of another’s prayer life.  So how can it be so easy for me to forget that prayer is one of my most powerful tools in fighting the enemy? 

Even though I have witnessed the miracle of God answering prayers, when I do not see immediate reversal of a bad situation, I grow weary and doubtful.  Many prayers seem to go unnoticed. I allow myself to get frustrated way too easily when a prayer’s answer requires waiting – and trusting. I hop on the pity wagon thinking my prayers are simply not as important as someone whose faith seems stronger, or walk a little deeper and truer than mine.  I felt conviction as I pondered how easily I give up or walk away from a prayer because my flesh gets frustrated.  So, when I read back over an old paper I had written, I found comfort in the fact great saints of God can identify with the way my mind can tend to wander. They assure me prayer experts are not simply born that way. Prayer is a learned discipline, and no one ever truly masters it this side of grace.  We none pray perfectly, and thankfully, perfection is not what our Savior is looking for.  God desires me to pray my heart, and come to Him just as I am. Those wandering thoughts, confessed struggles, doubts, and fears lead me to what God most wants to discuss with me.  John Ortberg calls them “steppingstones to prayer.” I love that!

According to theologian and biblical scholar, Walter Wink, “it pays to haggle with God.” What a picture – haggling with God. I began to think of places in the scriptures where prayers were heart wrenchingly real. And while there are many from Genesis to Revelation, I enjoyed recalling the Syrophoenician woman as she besought Jesus on behalf of her daughter. This broken woman modeled the “impertinent, persistent, shameless, undignified” prayers Wink references in his teachings. When Jesus seemed to ignore her, she was indecorous; when He twice gave her reason to believe she may not receive help, she was persistent. With her final plea, “Truth Lord; yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table,” she was shameless. She knew Christ was her hope, no matter what, and she would not let Him go. I desire a relationship with my Lord like hers, one in which I will not let Him go.

Intercessory prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we have as the enemy wages war against us. It is important we do not concern ourselves with the details we cannot see happening on the other side of the prayer. God is in full control.

To know that He holds us in the palm of His hands is quite overwhelming to me, and so is the fact He will place me on someone’s surrendered heart trusting they will pray for me – and they do! Nevertheless, the most awesome gift I feel unworthy of is when He believes in me enough to place a precious soul on my own heart. To know He is entrusting me with their prayer-need humbles me to tears. I can only ask He guide me and grow me in the powerful discipline of prayer, because it is one of great honor, and importance – it is one of our greatest protections.

Tantrums and Grace

Have you ever thrown a fit when talking to the Lord? I mean, mine was more like a tantrum, but who’s comparing, right?! Anyway, the few brief moments and months leading up to my toddler outburst had been hard – and often hurtful. My emotions were being driven by my feelings and my feelings by my focus (which was on myself.) As I sat in my car, I listed all the ways I had been slighted, the lack of understanding shown, what injury injustice had done to my heart, and how exhausting it was to have to always take the narrow path on the high road. See what I mean about my focus? I was Elijah in the cave, except I was in a car. Still yet, the Lord allowed me to cry, complain, question, and yes, He even allowed me to be angry and self-centered – He just didn’t let me stay there. I knew what was coming, but I was fighting it. His Words of life and truth hidden in my heart bubbled up, one at a time, until I knew what was to come.

Repentance through an act of service, forgiveness, because the love of Jesus compels us to see others, to view our circumstances, through Holy Sprit colored glasses.

As I turned the keys in the ignition and began to drive to my destination, I had calmed down; but, I was still resisting what my spirit was directing me to do – the kind and godly thing, that thing which goes beyond oneself. I remember my words as if I spoke them yesterday. “I just want to know I am loved, and you hear me.” As I cried out to my Father, He just listened, then I felt Him lean in and love on me with His heart. I heard Him whisper, “You are mine, and I am yours; I am your Maker and Husband. I am your rewarder when you diligently seek me. I love you with an everlasting love; and the same love that covers a multitude of your sins, is the same love which compels you to love others.”

His tender correction toppled my tantrum, His faithful hand of love subdued my fit.

I could go on to tell of the divine happening in the grocery store, but let it be said, some miracle moments are just between a father and his daughter. Just trust me when I say this, His love is big.

His love is bigger than our hurt, bigger than our selfishness, bigger than our complaints, bigger than our fear, bigger than our brokenness – so big it blows my mind!

I am certainly thankful He doesn’t only whisper into caves to prophets, and that His love covers my tantrums with grace.