“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 59:1
The prayers of others: how often have they helped me when I was not even aware someone was praying for me? How effective are my own prayers when I pray?
Trusting in prayer, as an effective weapon in countering my struggles, did not happen to me overnight, but over a period of time. In the past I felt God had much bigger problems to look after besides my pitiful, often self-centered calls for help. Only when I was at the end of my rope would it finally dawn on me that I had left Him completely out of the picture.
As I grew in my faith and continued in my study of the Bible, I became aware of the many answers provided to me about prayer in Scripture. There is so much in Scripture about how to pray; and how not to pray that I found it difficult to choose. The most recognizable by Christians on HOW to pray is the Lord’s Prayer…
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13
This one I believe gives answer too… “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
As well as this one… “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13.
These passages tell how God does NOT want me to pray…
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:5
Or this one… “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
As I learned more about prayer, I began to realize it was God’s way to develop a closer relationship with me. A reliance on Him to carry me through any hardship, or to bring me much joy through my blessings.The more I talked with Him, the more my anxieties decreased and peace reigned in my heart even during chaotic, difficult times.
A few years back, I was asked if I was interested in joining our Church Prayer Team. I was at a point where I felt more comfortable about my prayer life, but was still far from where I wanted to be in my relationship with God. Still, I accepted the challenge. How hard could it be?
Well, at times I have felt very inadequate to the task! The reality of how many people were in need of prayer was sometimes daunting, but the more I turned to prayer the answers kept coming to the forefront. I learned to pray on the spot if needed, or out loud with others listening. This was not an easy thing for me, but the more I did it the more I was given the right words.
Being self-centered humans we often expect God to answer our prayers immediately and in the way we think is best. However, God sees way beyond our scope of time and knowledge. Learning to rely on His answers, took faith and a trust that God never makes a mistake. It may be a short period of time for some answers, yet take years for others, but an answer will come, sometimes not the one you are wanting to receive.
There have been times in my life that I could not pray because of my own pain, grief or exhaustion. At those times God mercifully placed others around me that prayed in my stead. He continued to provide the comfort and peace I needed until I was able to converse with him once again.
Ruth Bell Graham had this to say about prayer… “Satan fears prayer because God hears prayer….. Start praying where you are, as you are, about whatever concerns you, about whatever is lying most heavily on your heart, about whatever is irritating or frustrating you at present.” When trouble comes barelling into your life, do what Ruth Graham did, turn to prayer right out of the starting gate.
Prayer has become my first offensive move for any help I need no matter how small, it is no longer my last line of defence! I may not receive the answer I was hoping for, but I now know it will be the best answer for my life, and I fully believe it will be the right answer for yours.
If you find yourself in need of prayer, I urge you to call someone you know who prays, or someone on a prayer chain that will petition the Lord on your behalf. Put your trust in Him to see you up and over any hurdle!
William B. Bradbury wrote the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. The first verse would be a good one to memorize and goes like this…
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known!
In seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.