Becky Tirabassi, in her book, Releasing God’s Power asked a young girl at a casual dinner party, “How’s your quiet time?” (1990, p. 17). She was asking about the young girl’s prayer life. It is a question that I fear would convict many in our congregations today. Why is prayer so difficult for so many? Part of the reason may be a misconception of what prayer is, and what prayer will do.
What Prayer Is
Consider what these giants in the faith said concerning prayer. E.M. Bounds-“Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil” (ND, p. 7). Chrysostom- “The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it had bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings” (ND, p. 17). James stated, “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” (James 5:16, KJV).
Prayer is a means whereby man communicates with God. However, it is much, much more. It is through prayer that we release the power of heaven. Jesus said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19, KJV, emphasis mine). This binding and releasing is wrought through prayer. P. Douglas Small stated, “Good praying demands divine partnership accomplished only by the strength and assistance of God, the Holy Spirit” (2008, p. 16, emphasis mine). Understanding this partnership is essential to understanding the power of prayer.
Prayer therefore, is a potent power that is released from heaven. Prayer is also a means by which we commune with God for worship and praise. In our communion with God we also make petitions concerning our needs and desires. Finally, our prayers should be in submission to God’s will and cloaked in thanksgiving concerning His intervention and care.
What Prayer Will Do
Although a great list could be offered as to all the things that prayer will do, the Apostle seems to say it best. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15, KJV). Prayer conforms our will to God’s. As believers, we cooperate with God in His work on this earth by praying according to His will and Word. When our prayers are in line with God’s will, we know that He hears them, and because they originated with God, and are in accordance with His desires and plans, we can be confident and assured that these prayers will be answered. Through this cooperative effort between God and man, the power of the Most High is released into this world to perform what God desires. Suddenly, it is quite understandable how the impossible is made possible through prayer. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6, KJV, emphasis mine).
What This Means for the Believer
Prayer then is not something that a person should feel obligated to do, but rather, it is an opportunity to be directed and used by God to release His power into the earth. In other words, this is something that we get to do.
Question: How has prayer made a significant impact in your life or ministry?
Bounds, E. M. (nd). Purpose In Prayer. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
Small, P. D. (2008). Prayer, The Heartbeat of the Church. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press.
Tirabassi, B. (1990). Releasing God’s Power. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing.