Prayer, a powerful weapon:
As I continue to mature in-Christ, I’ve come to the realization that prayer is the most valuable tool in the Christian tool chest. I need prayer, the people I meet need prayer, and the world needs prayer. There is not one day I’ve experience where prayer is not a factor in my life and in the lives of those around me. I am convinced that Christians are continuously buffeted with attacks from the princes and principalities of this world; those very attacks drive us to our knees, as we call out to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.
I recall a morning when I prayed a simple prayer, and God moved in a way that I could clearly see His intervention. It was a workday and I was running late for work. Typically, this would not be a serious problem but on this particular day, I was scheduled to give a status report on a newly assigned technology project. I had people flying in from out of town to discuss additional project requirements, so it was important for me to be on-time, calm and collected. I was speeding on the freeway, violating a few laws, when I started to pray: “Lord please help me make it to the meeting on-time”; and as the flow of freeway traffic continued to slow with congestion, I began to stress. I said: “Lord, I need a miracle!” Then, I heard that still small voice say, “do the right thing, pull over on the shoulder, call an associate and let them know you are running late, give yourself extra-time”. I pulled over and called an associate that would be attending the same meeting. I was then informed: “Relax, the customer is delayed at the airport and won’t arrive for another hour”. In fact, the meeting was postponed until much later in the day. This was a simple situation; some might argue that the occurrence was a coincidence, and that the voice I heard was just self-talk. To that I say touché, believe what you will.
On another occasion I met a young man that was in the midst of some pretty complex personal difficulties. He had been out of work for several weeks, and although he’d been performing odd jobs, working sporadically to earn a few bucks, he was having difficulty collecting wages owed to him. Things looked bad. I suggested we pray. While we prayed, for positive cash flow, a new job, and grace from his landlord and debt collectors. We prayed for acceptance of God’s will, and we prayed for a financial miracle that would enable him to pay his depts. I had no idea how God was going to move, but I knew, that because we’d called on the Lord, this would be a faith building experience for both of us. I suggested he check-in with a few people I knew that might need his particular services, and I participated as an answer to prayer, giving the young man enough cash to put some gas in his truck. A few days later I got a call: Although the young man was not able to reconcile with his landlord and keep his apartment, back-rents were forgiven. He was able to secure housing with family, and was able to find employment with a stable employer. This was yet another instance where God allowed me to witness His answer to prayer. These are examples of situations where I was able to see God’s work almost immediately.
What about situations where it appears that God does not hear or answer our prayers? Over the last few years, I’ve had two close friends be called home to be with the Lord. Both suffered ailments resulting from forms of cancer. Family and friends, including members of their respective church fellowships gathered to pray regularly over these men. After long battles with cancer, both men died, and like king David, in bible verses 2 Samuel 12:16-20 when he prayed for God to spare the life of his first born of Bathsheba, we were force to carry on with our lives. Where was God in all of this? I was blessed to see both of these men suffer well, and I know that their souls are in the presence of the Lord. The respective memorial services spoke of the wonderful lives these men had as spiritual leaders of their homes, mentors, supporters, and encouragers of all who were graced to know them. I know that I am a better man for having had such wonderful Christian friends.
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, looking first to God the Father, glorifying the name of God (v 9). He prays for the kingdom of God to become a reality on earth, just as the Kingdom exists in heaven (v 10). We ask the Lord for our daily sustenance (v11), while asking for the forgiveness of our sins, just as we forgive those that have sinned against us (v12). We ask the Lord God to help keep us away from temptations and to keep evil away from us (v13). In the King James version of the bible, a doxology follows: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.” This is an acknowledgement that, the kingdom of God and all true power belong rests with our sovereign Lord. That is the pattern of prayer taught by Christ Jesus Himself.
the Book of John, chapter 17 provides another template for prayer: Jesus prays to be glorifies (verses 1-5), then He prays for His disciples (verses 6-19), followed by a prayer for all believers (verses 20-26). This is a helpful pattern for all Christians as we embark on the great commission commanded by Christ Himself, for us to go and spread the gospel of Christ, the propitiation for the sins of those that believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. We pray for clear direction, we pray for the lives we impact, and we pray for the spiritual welfare of all believers.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us to “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 Lord’s people.”