I’m struggling with my prayer life.
Of course, I’m convinced that anyone who cares about prayer struggles; I don’t believe anyone ever reaches a point where they are completely satisfied with how much, or when, or how they pray.
As I sense the Lord leading me into a more significant investment of myself in prayer, I’m also realizing more and more what a mystery it is.
Still, for what it’s worth, below are 20 convictions I’ve come to concerning prayer.
(By the way, although I’ve been praying since I was a small child, I still feel like a “prayer newbie”. So if you have any additional thoughts or observations, please share them.)
1. Praying is the most important, powerful, productive and beneficial thing you can ever do for someone.
2. Of all the ministries one might have, prayer is the one that is available to everyone despite any physical, emotional or intellectual disadvantages. I have had individuals with Downs’ Syndrome pray for me and have been as blessed by them as by anyone.
3. Prayer is not limited by geography. I can make a significant difference in Somalia, though I’ve never been there.
4. Prayer is not limited by time. I’m convinced that prayers I prayed years ago for my family are still as intact and as influential as they were the moment I prayed them.
5. Jesus prayed. It must matter.
“…the Son of God, who had spoken worlds into being and sustains all that exists, felt a compelling need to pray. He prayed as if it made a difference, as if the time he devoted to prayer mattered every bit as much as the time he devoted to caring for people.” – Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? p 79
“Although Jesus offered no metaphysical proofs of the effectiveness of prayer, the very fact that he did it establishes its worth.” Ibid. p 81
6. Jesus continues to pray. It must matter. The only description of Jesus’ current activity given to us in the Bible is his praying on behalf of his followers: Hebrews 7:25.
7. The Bible definitely, repeatedly calls us to prayer. It must matter.
“Turn to the Bible’s view of history… and you see a picture of God as a personal Being who alertly listens to prayers and then responds. Jesus filled in that portrait, and the disciples took up praying right where Jesus left off, making specific and personal requests for God to act.” – Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? p 132
8. Three reassurances things I’m looking for when I pray: that God loves me, that he understands me and that he allows my prayers to make a difference.
9. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God.
10. Prayer is our strongest weapon against invisible forces.
“To clasp our hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” – Karl Barth, cited in Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, by Philip Yancey, p 118
11. In the midst of struggles, prayer is not preparation for some future battle. Prayer is the battle.
12. Prayer perhaps requires the greatest amount of faith. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:7 that “We walk by faith, not by sight.” There is no greater arena than prayer in which that is true.
“For most of us, much of the time, prayer brings no certain confirmation we have been heard. We pray in faith that our words somehow cross a bridge between visible and invisible worlds, penetrating a reality of which we have no proof. We enter God’s milieu, the realm of spirit…” – Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? p 22, 23
13. It does not matter how long my prayer is. Just as extended time in prayer is important, prayer “snatches” or “arrows” (as I’ve heard them called) are every bit as powerful.
14. One of Jesus’ last prayer requests has yet to be granted. In the Garden of Gethsemane, recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed that his followers would be unified.
15. Soberingly, one of Jesus’ final prayer requests was denied. Also in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed that he would not have to go through the ordeal he was facing.
16. Prayer does not require fancy language.
17. The intensity of my prayer doesn’t matter.
18. When I can’t find the strength or the words to pray, the Holy Spirit also (see #6) prays on my behalf. Read Romans 8:26, 27
19. Prayer is not an effort on our part to pry open the fingers of a God reluctant to bless us.
20. The purpose of prayer is not for us to change God’s mind, but to put ourselves in the position for him to change ours.
Given my conviction that praying is the best thing we can ever do for someone, and given the fact that I want to be involved in the best, I’ve established a second phone line in my home, strictly for people to use to request prayers. If you call and I’m home – and can answer – I’ll be happy to pray with you if you’d like. Otherwise, you’ll be able to leave a message. All calls will be held in strictest confidence. Every prayer request will be honored. The number is 864-400-9431. Please feel free to share it with your friends.