I’ve heard the sayings, such as: “The devil fears when Grandma gets on her knees.” “Don’t underestimate the power of a praying woman.” “Prayer changes things.” There are many more, and you’ve probably heard them. We understand the sentiments, and the sayings are true up to a point.
But, what is wrong?
Is the power in prayer?
I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but even people in false religions, sects, and paganism pray. They are also sincere.
For illustration’s sake, lets describe a scene that might happen somewhere that practices idolatry. A woman kneels with her floral offering and a lit candle in front of an idol. She prays.
Is there power in her prayer? There might be sincerity, but there’s no power. Why? The problem is in the one she’s praying to. The image can’t respond. It can’t hear, walk, talk, or react in any way. Her prayers go absolutely nowhere.
The power isn’t in sincerity.
It isn’t in prayer itself—the words.
Power in prayer is only because of to Whom we pray. God answers in incredible, supernatural ways, because He can. He is God.
Jesus’ model prayer that we call The Lord’s Prayer begins, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth (from Luke 11:2).
Notice, this prayer begins with the acknowledgement of the object of our prayers—God the Father. He’s in heaven and worthy of our praise because of His holy name. The next sentences pray for His kingdom to come—literally praying for the Lord Jesus to return—and for God’s sovereign will to be done in the universe.
The Lord’s Prayer begins with our powerful, holy, omniscient God, who has a plan for all times. That recognition is the premise for powerful praying.
We pray to God. He has the power, and His will will be done. We can count on it.
James was writing to Jewish Christians. He instructed them to pray when they were sad or happy and also for the sick. Then, he gives the example of Elijah’s powerful prayer.
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit (James 5:13-18).
Notice where the power came from: the Lord shall raise him up. The promise of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much is because of God’s power. Prayer is effective because the Lord answers.
The example of Elijah was because he knew beforehand God’s will about the rain. God had already revealed it to him. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah was merely communicating the message from the Lord about what would come to pass. Prayer was Elijah’s means of communicating with God.
The power comes from God and God alone. We do nothing magical when we pray. Prayer is a wonderful means of communicating our emotions and petitions to God. It is the way we visit with Him and have a relationship with Him. Then, we watch Him answer.
God’s answers in one of three ways:
- Yes. God will immediately answer your prayer. Sometimes, these yes answers are miracles.
- No. Knowing better than you do about what is best, God denies your request.
- Wait. God wants you to keep praying and looking for the answer. He will answer in His own way and time. By the way, God’s answers are always on time.
I love Jesus’ parable about the lady who bugs the judge. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)
Many times, the Bible exhorts us to pray. In fact, we’re supposed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). All the time, all day long, we’re to be communicating with the Lord.
He has the power.
He can answer.
He will answer.
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).