What is the Power of Prayer?
Does prayer really change things?
How does prayer work?
Why is prayer necessary?
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With God being God, why would he require we ask for something before granting it? Why would any of our petitions be of importance?
Essentially, why doesn’t God just do the thing?
I know that may come across whiny, selfish, arrogant and rude. Though I question and then wrestle with the doubt that comes tagging along, there’s no hidden motive to undermine or uncover some little-known, mind-blowing secret.
I really mean it. How does prayer work? Why is it necessary? Essentially, “God, why do you see fit to involve us in this asking and receiving, rather than just doing what you see fit?”
Are All Prayers Answered?
Every prayer is heard and I believe each one is answered. It’s just that often they’re answered differently and with far less fanfare than requested. We face an agonizing situation and pray for favor or healing or rescue. Down the line, it turns out God did not grant us favor with the loan officer or provide healing of our neighbor or rescue us from a situation that was no fault of our own, or maybe it was. Still, undoubtedly, faithfully He was there.
He called to us in our pain. He sent his spirit to us to remind us what we already knew. His words stayed fresh in our minds even when they were hard to cling to. We leaned in and we found him. His promises were fulfilled in countless ways.
The circumstance wasn’t changed, but we were. He was our strong tower. He loaned us his strength, his armor, his readiness. Our perspective changed with our proximity to him. We gained a better understanding of our relationship with him. We begin leaning more on God confidence vs self confidence.
We experienced the power of prayer, even though he answered differently than requested.
Psalm 23 NRSV
The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul,
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
While knowing that God hears and answers each prayer according to his supreme will and desire, is a great comfort, it doesn’t tie the topic of prayer up in a sweet bow.The power of prayer begs to be unwrapped & fully known. It is both remembrance & battle cry. It’s a request to tear down, forgive, & build up. It’s our route to God’s presence, even in unexpected places. Click To Tweet
“…I urge you to boldly believe for whatever you ask for in prayer—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.”
Mark 11:24-25 (TPT)
Why Do We Pray if God Has a Plan?
What exactly is our role as the asker? As the believer? Must we pray for the pre-determined result in order for it to play out according to his will? Why does he involve us with our fragile, highly distractible, impulsive human desire? If the opposite is true and he carries out his will without us praying about it, then why are we told to pray without ceasing?
[click_to_tweet tweet=”It’s clear that my 2+2=4 of prayer, “We Believe + We Ask”, isn’t equaling “We Receive” the way I understood it as a kid. #prayer” quote=”It’s clear that my 2+2=4 of prayer, “We Believe + We Ask”, isn’t equaling “We Receive” the way I understood it as a kid.”]
In all my questioning and grappling to understand the power of prayer, here’s what I know. God wants the best for us. He loves us. He wants us near him. God is perfectly fine with respectful questioning and when asked from a humble stance, he answers graciously. He meets us in our wrestling and he provides rest to all those who are burdened and are in need.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
I invite you to read Jesus’ instructions on prayer, via the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), from a few different translations of the Bible. Then, write it out as a personal prayer to God in your own words and voice.
Here are 3:
New International Version (NIV)
The Passion Translation (TPT)
The Message (MSG)
Here’s a link to another post, which also has to do with the power of prayer, specifically in written form. I don’t always write out prayers. It can be a tad labor intensive and is far from necessary. But sometimes it brings focus that I just can’t achieve otherwise.
“I write to discover what I know.”
While we can study understand the character of God, it is clear we cannot predict him or uncover all of his mystery. We could never master the subject! You probably have questions on the power of prayer, too. I’d be honored if you shared them with me so we could explore them together.
I’m really excited to kick this series off as I prayerfully write to understand.
Read more in this series here:
Benefits of Unanswered Prayer: Getting Closer to God through Prayer
Benefits of Prayer: Be Like Jesus
Benefits of Prayer: Change in Perspective
Benefits of Prayer: Better Relationships
Prayer: God, I come humbly to you and lay out all of my questions to you. Thank you for welcoming questions and inviting us to come confidently to you. I am so pleased to worship you in your sovereignty and mystery. You alone are worthy. Though I don’t always understand your methods or plans, I don’t want that to get in the way of coming to you. I thank you for opening communication with us through the death and resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ. May I never take that for granted!
I love this “Be Still” Prayer Journal. Having a specific place for times I choose to write my prayers, or journal my thoughts on God and how he’s moving in my life, creates a personal treasure. Reading older entries helps me zero in on prayers I thought went unanswered, and lets me trace his hand in my life. This journal includes a different verse on every page, which I love. The spiral bound book means no wasted pages and there’s a hard surface included for writing anywhere, anytime!
As I have gotten out of my normal quiet time routine over the last weeks of summer break I am truly feeling my brokeness and missing my good Father! This part especially called to me. “Prayer is simultaneously a cry for help and praise for what’s been done already. It’s a remembrance and a battle cry. It’s a request to tear down, forgive, and build up. It’s our route to God’s presence in the unexpected places.” Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration.
Prayer is all the things! And I feel you on getting out of routine in the summertime. Just so thankful he’s faithful even when we aren’t. Good father, indeed!
Jessa L Nowak says
God is such a unique mystery, but it does bring me comfort and joy that he promises to hear. Thanks for this beautiful post!
Yes! Being heard and knowing he sees everything we face, is a huge comfort measure. Thanks so much for reading!
Jennifer combs says
There is power in prayer. I have seen my prayers come to pass time and time again. God’s timing is not always what we want, but I’m thankful He sees us through!
Yes! Well said. So glad he is faithful even when we are not (2 Tim 2:13). Waiting definitely grows my faith when I resolve to be still and know he is God.
Sheila Rhodes says
Prayer is such a powerful gift we give to each other. Many times I have heard the phrase, “All I can do is pray!” like it is the last resort, but the fact is it is the BEST thing we can do. My grandmother was a prayer warrior and she prayed for all of her sons to be saved. She didn’t get to see it in her lifetime, but those prayers, although not answered in her lifetime, have come to fruition. Yes, they may not always be answered the way we want, but God has the panoramic view and I only have a snapshot.
That’s such a great point and I often feel the same way. Prayer is the most loving, powerful thing we can do. When we pray and act as hands and feet of Jesus, serving others in their place of need, it lets them know they are seen and they are loved. What a powerful testimony of faith and prayer in your family! I bet there will be lots of celebrating when she’s reunited with her boys on the other side!
It brings so much joy and comfort that we have access to a patient, loving God who is willing to hear our prayers. I love that you said in the power of prayer “He meets us in our wrestling and He provides rest to all those who are burdened and are in need.” Thanks for the reminder to pray without ceasing.
My head knows he wants us fully, but sometimes I need a reminder that really does mean FULLY with our praise and gratitude PLUS our questions and doubts.There is nothing that can separate us from his love. So if we take our questions to him it brings us nearer rather than creating space, which is SO different from our human relationships. I’m with you – immensely grateful for his patience!
CINDY SINGLETON says
I love that you pointed out our circumstances may not change, but we will. One of the things I believe most about prayer is that God uses it to change me even if He doesn’t change a single other thing. He is so good and so faithful.
Yes! And in so many ways, teaching us to trust it the most merciful thing he can do for us!
Sierra Smith says
Praying and understanding the power of prayer is so incredibly important! As a teenager, I completely misunderstood prayer and often felt like my prayer went unanswered; I failed to see that God DID answer my prayers, it was just in a different way from what I expected. I had to learn to accept that sometimes God’s answer is “no.” It’s not because He’s mean or doesn’t want good things for us but because He knows what the future holds for us; when God says “no” it’s because somewhere in the future there is a greater “yes.”
You put that SO well, Sierra! A “no” right now means there’s something else first that will allow us a future a “yes”! I’m scribing it on my heart!
Cecily- The Grace To Grow says
What a great post about the power of prayer! I’m going to share this, for sure!
Thanks, Cecily! I appreciate you letting me know!
Love your prayer at the end! Prayer is such a beautiful way to be union with God. Its also a powerful tool. Im going to save your series and dig into your other prayer posts.
I’m convinced there’s no limit to the power of prayer — which I know goes without saying, since God has no limits, but it resonates with me and makes that power more tangible! I appreciate your encouragement. I hope you enjoy the rest of the prayer posts!
I love how honest you are about the fact that we will never master the ability to completely understand God or prayer. He really does leave a lot to mystery and our ability to have faith.