I have had my doubts and hesitations in the past. I’ve had dry spells where I would spend every day spiritually alone, not remembering or finding purpose in living any other way.
Except I didn’t realize what I was missing. How incomplete I truly was without nurturing my relationship with God. How everything life was throwing at me wasn’t meant to be handled without my feet firmly rooted in Him. I was like a rustling leaf that had fallen from its branch, blowing sporadically whenever the wind picked up and never feeling a sense of stability.
That’s where prayer comes in. Likely if you’re a religious or spiritual person, you pray at least somewhat regularly, but if you are also in a place where you’re doubting and questioning everything, then you might see prayer as an extra thing to check off your to-do list. I’m supposed to do this, so I guess I will…but from that context, you aren’t completely utilizing the power of prayer.
There is so much more to prayer than folding your hands and hoping for the best. When you realize the power of prayer and really put your time and thought into the experience, you’re bound to grow closer to God that may otherwise feel untouchable. You can turn an admiration for God into a personal, deep relationship that will enrich your life and soul.
What the Bible says.
The power of prayer is very prominent idea throughout Scripture. The Old Testament frequently depicts God directly communicating with His followers through messengers like Moses, but as we continue toward the time of Jesus and after His death and resurrection, we see less of that almighty intervention and more quiet contemplation.
Through Jesus, God’s ultimate act of power couldn’t be topped, and God no longer presents Himself in sweeping motions and invoking ground-shaking fear in His people. That doesn’t mean God is any less powerful or present than He always was, but it seems to have taken on new meaning.
Prayer is how we utilize the gift of God’s mercy made possible in Jesus. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Although God already knows your sins and sees every vulnerable corner of our souls, the power of prayer comes in confession and repentance. When we offer our flaws, our mistakes, every ounce of greed and envy and ugliness, God forgives and redeems us. No fear-provoking, earth-shattering act of nature is required for God to perform the most amazing gesture we could ever ask for.
Personal experience in prayer.
Like I mentioned earlier, I haven’t always been diligent in my prayer life. I have explored spirituality for years, trying to figure out my place in this universe and what exactly I believe. In this personal exploration, I didn’t prioritize praying to the Lord. I was full of excuses to write it off and forget about it.
I had prayed in the past, but it was so often for the wrong reasons. I almost treated God as a genie, making superficial “wishes” that I thought would bring me happiness and satisfaction. I asked for lasting friendships, I asked for good grades, and I asked for everything in my life to improve and be all sunshine and daisies. In the worst stages of acting upon my eating disorder, this even included praying for lower BMI numbers!
Last week, I was in a very bad place. I was having a panic attack about a stressful academic situation, bringing back similar past experiences of blame, ridicule and shame that still haunt me. In a moment of pure desperation, feeling so helpless and out-of-control, rather than dwelling in my panic, I turned to God. I bared everything to Him. I knew it had been a while since I had last prayed, but I lay in my bed, hands folded, and honestly admitted every single emotion and fear racing through my mind.
It was after doing this, tears filling my eyes, that I felt a wave of peace and stillness I won’t be soon forgetting. Was I still anxious? Sure was. Is the situation still very stressful and real? Absolutely. But I know God, in that moment, wrapped me tighter in His arms and reminded me that everything would turn out as it should. He would take care of me. He loves me regardless of my struggles. In that moment, I needed that.
Make the most of prayer.
The power of prayer is too often reserved for those times like I just described, when we’re picking ourselves off the floor and feel completely paralyzed by life. This is when God can really make obvious gestures and whispers to guide us toward Him. However, the power of prayer is something to value in every opportunity, every emotion, every place of victory, contentment, failure, and all the in-between times, too. There is always a reason to praise the Lord and thank Him.
Prayer isn’t reserved for a select few clergy and devout religious officials. Every single person should pray on a regular basis. It can be structured if you prefer it that way, but at its essence, it is listening and talking to God. You bare your heart to the Lord however you best see fit. We can all benefit from growing more intimate with God, and then we can grow and learn more about His Word and what He asks of us in our daily lives.
See how I mention listening to God, turning prayer into less of a one-sided experience, but a form of open, equal communication. Sometimes people do hear God directly speaking to them, but it is often much more subtle. As Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How God receives your communication and relays His response to you may simply be a surge of peace wash over yourself, or a reaffirmed patience in His timing and His ways.
If you’re lost and don’t know how to approach pray, don’t feel discouraged because the Holy Spirit will guide you. Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
Because God taught us to pray in obedience to His commandments, we should pray. It’s really as simple as that. Plus, God always hears our words. When we come to Him with a faithful, humble heart, He is THRILLED to listen and comfort us. No, He won’t always respond as we expect and hope for, but every time, He gives us what is right. Most importantly, He gives us freedom, compassion, and the promise of eternal life. If that’s not powerful, what is?
How do you feel the power of prayer? How has God responded to your words?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie