I believe in the power of prayerSocial Chaos, Where's the Faith?, Latest Issue Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Where’s the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
I don’t suppose that it comes as any surprise that I as a pastor would say, “I believe in prayer.” You’d expect this, right? I’m grateful that belief in prayer came naturally for me as a child. Even before I can remember, I was taught to pray. The first prayer I was taught was the bedtime prayer that went like this:
Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake;
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I don’t remember this story, but my Dad tells the story that one morning during a breakfast prayer I didn’t close my eyes, but intently watched him as he prayed. He noticed this, and when he had finished with, “Amen”, I asked him, “Daddy, do you know why I looked at you? ‘Cause I wanted to learn how to pray.” I was four years old.
As I grew older, prayer was simply a natural part of my life. I was convinced that prayer was important, that prayer was real, and that prayer made a difference. And through all the years of my life, I’ve never had any reason to change that belief.
I’d guess many people believe in prayer. And because they believe in the power of prayer, they understand the request the disciples asked Jesus one day: “Teach us to pray.”
When they began following Jesus, they saw what prayer meant to him. They’d been observing the difference prayer made in Jesus’ life. He went into prayer in one mood and came out in another. Praying, for Jesus, was not just a form, but a force, a power. Prayer was vital and influential in his life and the disciples wanted Jesus to teach them how to pray.
Watching Jesus awakened their belief in prayer. As they watched him grow stronger, they began to see that prayer was more than just begging God for the things they desired. They saw how prayer influenced Jesus’ life and they asked him to teach them to pray.
Prayer is a powerful force. And prayer is a powerful force that’s available to us. Isaiah affirmed this when he said, “They that wait upon God will renew their strength …”
And centuries later we still know that prayer is the most powerful form of energy that one can generate, because prayer links us to God.
There are many reasons why people pray. Sometimes we treat prayer almost as if it were magical. We try to manipulate God to get what we want.
Prayer is so much more than a magical formula that gets God to do what we want (princess parking spot). Prayer is an inner openness to God which allows divine power to be released in us. Ultimately, the power of prayer is not that we succeed in changing God, but that God succeeds in changing us.
Someone once said, “The promise of God is not that God will magically remove all of our problems, but that God will give us strength in the midst of our problems.”
Robert Allen says prayer is a powerful force. The power of prayer is not in changing God, but in changing us from unhappy individuals to happy ones, in changing fearful people to peaceful and loving people, in changing the cruel into the kind. If we make a place for prayer in our lives, we’ll be amazed at the power and strength which is released in our lives.
There are many different reasons to pray, but one of the most valid reasons is to find comfort and peace. George Buttrick said, “Prayer is as elemental as a cry in the night.” When we cry out in the night, we’re searching for some comfort, some peace, some hope, even in the midst of our problems. Real prayer is calling out to God during our pain and hurt, looking for some comfort.
“God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble.” When we pray to God in our time of need, we discover strength and comfort and peace.
I believe in prayer because it affirms that no matter how lonely we are, no matter how hurt we are, there’s still one to whom we can turn. God will never leave you and never forsake you. That’s a promise for you!
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