I have seen the power of prayer working in my own life, from simple answers of finding a parking space to financial successes, for healing, for peace, and for comfort. The power of prayer should not be underestimated. James 5:16-18 declares, “…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” God most definitely listens to prayers, answers prayers, and moves in response to prayers.
Prayer is such a powerful force. We underestimate it so much. Prayer can move mountains if only we would let it. If only you would realize just how powerful prayer can be, you would never feel hopeless.
Prayer is direct communication with God.
Nothing is too trivial … or too big to pray for either. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed by a situation such as a war or a famine and feel we can do nothing to help. We can. We can pray. When we are moved by something we see on the TV news or read about in a newspaper we should say a prayer.
When you hear an ambulance or walk past a hospital, say a quick prayer for whoever is sick and for those who are caring for them. When you see someone in difficulties on the street, say a prayer for them. We all need to expand our circle of prayers out from ourselves, our family and friends. You are being called upon to pray for other people – including people in the world whom you have never met.
Jesus taught, “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The Bible urges us, “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).
The power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “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.” No matter the person praying, the passion behind the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer – God answers prayers that are in agreement with His will. His answers are not always yes, but are always in our best interest. When our desires line up with His will, we will come to understand that in time. When we pray passionately and purposefully, according to God’s will, God responds powerfully!
We cannot access powerful prayer by using “magic formulas.” Our prayers being answered is not based on the eloquence of our prayers. We don’t have to use certain words or phrases to get God to answer our prayers. In fact, Jesus rebukes those who pray using repetitions, “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 6:7-8). Prayer is communicating with God. All you have to do is ask God for His help. Psalm 107:28-30 reminds us, “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” There is power in prayer!
God’s help through the power of prayer is available for all kinds of requests and issues. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “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.” If you need an example of a prayer, read Matthew 6:9-13. These verses are known as the Lord’s prayer. The Lord’s prayer is not a prayer we are supposed to memorize and simply recite to God. It is only an example of how to pray and the things that should go into a prayer – worship, trust in God, requests, confession, protection, etc. Pray for these kinds of things, but speak to God using your own words.
The Word of God is full of accounts describing the power of prayer in various situations. The power of prayer has overcome enemies (Psalm 6:9-10), conquered death (2 Kings 4:3-36), brought healing (James 5:14-15), and defeated demons (Mark 9:29). God, through prayer, opens eyes, changes hearts, heals wounds, and grants wisdom (James 1:5). The power of prayer should never be underestimated because it draws on the glory and might of the infinitely powerful God of the universe! Daniel 4:35 proclaims, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?'”
As in most other faith traditions, prayer is an essential part of the life of a practicing Christian.
In what must be one of the most difficult exhortations the apostle Paul left to the new community of Christians in Thessalonica, he tells them to “pray without ceasing… for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
As admirable a goal as this sounds, how can anyone truly pray in nonstop fashion, particularly in face of the distractions of life, whether it be a roaring cascade of water or the more common barrage of daily meetings, phone calls, e-mails, texts, and tweets? How is this possible?
Surely this is something intended for those with more time on their hands, like those contemplative-types cloistered away from the cares of the world.
For centuries, Christians have sought to advance union with God through focused, repetitive prayer. In the Eastern Christian tradition, there exists a form of such a prayer, which is rendered as the simple petition “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It’s better known as the Jesus Prayer.
The prayer is rooted in the gospels, where a parallel can be found in the publican’s penitential cry “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).
I’ve prayed this prayer during the most difficult challenges of my life and found it not merely comforting but also made the presence of God absolutely real.
In a moving testimony, a professor of a theology course recalled to the class the moving tragedy of when his wife lost their child during delivery. In a state of stunned devastation and struggling to cope, he confided that while he lacked the emotional strength to open to God in ways he was used to, he was able to hold on by repeatedly reciting the Jesus Prayer. He referred to it as his “rope to God” when all else had failed.
The Jesus Prayer is not only meant as an aid in time of distress, but with focused and continuous use can transform our lives.
Through silent repetition, every action we take engages us in our prayer. We are no longer bound by time and space. Yes, distractions are still there, but with continuous effort (as the Paul recommended) we learn to integrate them into the rhythm of prayer that envelops us.
This transformation is famously told in the The Way of a Pilgrim, a story about a nineteenth century Russian peasant-pilgrim who roams the countryside reading his Bible and reciting the Jesus prayer, and how his life and relationships with those he encounters changes along the way.
As popular writer Frederica Matthews-Green points out, the Jesus Prayer is an “all purpose, very portable prayer” that can be initiated anywhere, whether riding a bike, grocery shopping, or waiting in line at the DMV.
The late Mother Alexandra wrote of her own personal account of the impact of the Jesus prayer in her life:
“In fear and joy, in loneliness and companionship, it is ever with me. Not only in the silence of daily devotions, but at all times and in all places. It transforms, for me, frowns into smiles; it beautifies, as if a film had been washed off an old picture so that the colors appear clear and bright, like nature on a warm spring day after a shower. Even despair has become attenuated and repentance has achieved its purpose.”
Here are several great verses about prayer:
Acts 2:42 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Acts 16:25-26 ESV
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
Amos 1:1-15 ESV
The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said: “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.” Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad. I will break the gate-bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter from Beth-eden; and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord. …
Daniel 6:18-24 ESV
Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” …
Acts 28:10 ESV
They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
Acts 17:11 ESV
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 12:12 ESV
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Acts 4:24 ESV
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
Mark 16:16 ESV
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Ezekiel 36:11-15 ESV
And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children. Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord God. And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
Pray without ceasing,
Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Genesis 18:27 ESV
Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
Philippians 1:3-4 ESV
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
Romans 8:26 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Psalm 41:1-4 ESV
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
James 5:13-14 ESV
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? 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.
Colossians 1:3 ESV
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Psalm 141:2 ESV
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
James 4:3 ESV
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Romans 10:17 ESV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
James 1:5-7 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
Amos 3:5-15 ESV
Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt, and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see the great tumults within her, and the oppressed in her midst.” …
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Another popular idea is that the amount of faith we have determines whether or not God will answer our prayers. However, sometimes the Lord answers our prayers in spite of our own lack of faith. In Acts 12, the church prays for Peter’s release from prison (v. 5), and God answers their prayer (vv. 7-11). Peter goes to the door of the prayer meeting and knocks, but those who are praying refuse at first to believe that it is really Peter. They prayed he would be released, but they failed to expect an answer to their prayers.
The power of prayer does not flow from us; it is not special words we say or the special way we say them or even how often we say them. The power of prayer is not based on a certain direction we face or a certain position of our bodies. The power of prayer does not come from the use of artifacts or icons or candles or beads. The power of prayer comes from the omnipotent One who hears our prayers and answers them. Prayer places us in contact with Almighty God, and we should expect almighty results, whether or not He chooses to grant our petitions or deny our requests. Whatever the answer to our prayers, the God to whom we pray is the source of the power of prayer, and He can and will answer us, according to His perfect will and timing
The power of prayer gives us a glimpse into the wonderful power of God and His tremendous love for us. We only need the faith of a mustard seed, be in God’s will and he says if we only ask we will receive