Why would the creator of the universe care about my feeble words? Why would He tell us to pray on all occasions (Eph 6:18) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18)?
Not knowing the mind of God, I can only guess because of how prayer has impacted my life.
I recently came across a dozen or so personal prayer requests I had written in my journal 6 years ago. I was amazed to realize that God had answered each of those prayers over the intervening years.
I have experienced the power of prayer.
I have prayed over spiritual matters, I have prayed over practical matters. I have seen prayers answered immediately, and I am still waiting for answers to prayers I have been praying for decades.
For whatever reason, God wants us to engage with Him in prayer. Prayer is a living thing, and as such, it would be impossible to reduce its blessings to a simple list. But here are a few of the things that I have experienced through prayer....
- Prayer draws us closer to God, and makes us more dependent on Him
- Like a familiar voice on the other end of the phone, the more time we spend in prayer, the easier it is to recognize God's voice speaking to us
- When we praise God in prayer we are taken out of ourselves and our focus is turned on Him
- Intercessory prayer turns our attention away from our own needs and to the needs of others.
- Prayers of confession grow us in humility
- Prayers of gratitude help us see how blessed we are.
And so much more.
Prayer not only affects those for whom we pray, but it changes us, from the inside out. It is a mystery that I will never fully grasp, but for which I am profoundly grateful.
Earlier this year I felt God strongly impress on my heart that I needed to dedicate time each week to be in prayer with a dear friend. We have known each other for a long time, and have prayed together often. But with the exception of a short-lived church ministry, we haven't prayed together regularly, only as urgent needs arose. She moved six years ago, and now lives in Canada.
I asked, and she heartily agreed. She had been sensing the same need. And despite the time change, phone issues, 3000 miles, and our busy homeschooling lives, we have managed to pray for at least an hour together, on the phone, almost every week since March. We put our prayer time into our calendars and work other things around it. We have prayed in calm and in crisis, in our homes and in our cars, and even as we traveled. I budget those minutes into my cell phone use and it affects how I make my phone calls throughout the entire week. It is a priority.
As I look at what has happened in both of our families this year, I am overwhelmed. We have witnessed massive personal breakthroughs, healing in relationships, new ministries being born, material provision just in time. If I could choose just one word to describe the fruit of this time, it would be peace. Not only peace for my sweet friend and for me, but also for the people for whom we are praying. Over and over when we check in on someone for whom we've been praying, the response is that they have felt peace. Even if they hadn't known we were praying for them.
It is remarkable.
For whatever reason, God wants us to partner with Him in prayer, and blesses our response.
I encourage you, not only to be diligent in praying yourself, but also to reach out to someone and make a commitment to meet in prayer regularly. It truly will change your life.