MOST POWERFUL FORCE
True prayer is the most powerful force in the world today. True prayer brings the force of our Almighty God into action. However, true prayer is sadly lacking in our generation.
Most Christians haven’t been taught how to pray from the Word of God, but have learned by listening to or experiencing other, often erroneous examples.
In the church of our tradition, we had Wednesday night prayer meetings. We sat in a circle and everyone related their problems, and those of their family and friends. Then they told us what they thought the answer should be. When we bowed our heads to pray, our chief concern was that we had forgotten some of the problems and might not tell them to God. The next week, we heard the same problems and the same desire for answers. We talked about unruly teenagers until they grew up. We talked about Aunt Hilda’s cancer until she died.
The Prayer Requests section in the church bulletin stayed almost the same week after week. We almost never heard of any answers to our prayers and after many years gave up going to prayer meetings. They were boring, negative times of dwelling only on the problems in everyone’s life and nothing seemed to happen anyway.
Through this study, our goal is to take a new, fresh look at prayer. Through the numerous biblical examples, we will learn what prayer is and how to pray.
Years ago, we remodeled our kitchen. The first thing we had to do was tear out the old cabinets and counters, even some of the old walls, the ceiling and the floor. As wood ages, it gets very hard and some of the nails that needed to be pulled were three and four inches long. It took a large crowbar to remove them, and as some of them were pulled loose, they made a screeching sound – almost as if they were protesting.
Weeks after we had completed this project, during praise at the beginning of a service, I suddenly saw in the spirit one of these long rusty nails being pulled out. I heard the screech again. “Lord,” I asked, “What is this?”
He said, “Those are the things you have been taught over the years that are in error. They are hard to remove, but they must be pulled out!” Let’s examine some of the “rusty nails” in our thinking about prayer.
Prayer Is Not:
Begging a “reluctant” God to act on our behalf
Many prayers sound like people are begging a reluctant God to act. They know God can act, but doubt His desire to do so for them because they are so unworthy.
Telling God our problems
We hear people telling God their problems – as if He didn’t already know them – and then we hear them telling God what they need Him to do. It’s as if they give God a blueprint of what they want Him to do and then hope that He will do it.
If we pray continuously about the problems, they will grow larger and larger in our minds.
- Convincing God of how worthy we are
Many try to convince God of how worthy a person is. “God, Mary has always loved You. She has taught in the Sunday School for twenty years. She has been a good wife and mother. We need her, and we ask You to ...” That’s basing prayer and faith on a person’s oodness.
- Persuading others of our relationship with God
Some prayers seem as if they are prayed to persuade others of the great relationship the person has with God.
- Expressions of doubt and unbelief
Many of the prayers in the church of our tradition were expressions of doubt and unbelief. As we told others how bad things were, we were in reality cursing the people we loved. As we asked people to pray about this or that, we were gossiping. “I’m only telling you this so that you’ll know how to pray,” became a preamble to many conversations.
What we called prayer was a verbal listing of the evil we saw around us. Instead of praying, we spent hours in fervent worry!
There are many forms of prayer. Almost as many forms as there are Christians and situations. One form isn’t “right” and another “wrong.” One form isn’t better than another. God’s desire is that we operate in all of them at different times, as He leads us.
Many different words are used for prayer in the Bible.
Talking to God
Prayer is the simplest form of expression in the Christian life. It’s talking to God. It can be a believer in child-like faith whispering the Father’s name from their innermost being.
Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”