“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all the believers everywhere.” (Eph 6:18)
The other night my husband, oldest son and I were having dinner together. Our son lives out on his own, works in a restaurant as a server, and is going to school full-time. Over the past several years he has shared with us the challenges of working in a service based industry where you rely on the generosity of others for your livelihood and where sometimes you are not rewarded no matter how well you perform your job. This conversation came up again at dinner, as we are always a little concerned about how he seems to live on the financial edge.
He shared with us how, in the past week, he had been really blessed by several of his patrons. Normally we would have just said “Great!” and moved on. But this particular time we stayed on that for a minute longer. We stayed on it because my spirit clearly sang out in response to “in the past week”.
Earlier that week I prayed specifically that God show His activity in my son’s life through the generosity of his customers. In the past week the Lord answered that prayer. My spirit sang in praise and I paused our conversation to tell my son that I had prayed for that very thing. I wanted him to know that the Lord had indeed been active. I wanted to glorify God in that moment. I wanted for him to know that God is watching out for him.
It was a small prayer prayed on a Monday during my normal quiet time. It was answered in a small way. My son was not suddenly rich. He didn’t win the lottery. God revealed Himself through his customers. I am learning that not all prayers need a powerful answer. Some do. Most probably do not. This prayer did not need a powerful, huge, blow your mind answer. It needed a simple answer.
My journey with learning about powerful prayer started when I was studying the Spiritual Armor found in Ephesians 6:10-18. It is very telling that Paul ends his discussion with the directive to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all the believers everywhere.” (Eph 6:18)
Prayer is our one truly offensive weapon in our daily spiritual battles. We are supposed to pray as if our lives depended on it. Yet all too often we do not. Prayer is meant to be powerful. Paul describing it as a piece of our “armament” tells us this. Yet all too often it isn’t. Or at least we feel it isn’t.
Sometimes we pray because we can’t think of anything else to do so we may as well. We fumble with our words and doubt our effectiveness. We are not sure God hears us, but we hope He does. We pray because we know that we are supposed to but we aren’t always convinced that God will answer because He’s been silent on so many occasions. We lack confidence in our prayers and in our ability to pray. Maybe that is just me. But I don’t think so.
The very fact that we pray at all says certain things about what we believe:
- We are saying that we believe that there is a being – God – to pray to.
- We saying that we believe this God wants to hear our prayers.
- We are saying that God can do something about our request.
Think about those three statements for just a minute. They are true aren’t they? No matter what someone might say with their mouth about believing or not believing in God – if they pray, when we pray, we are making fundamental statements about what our heart believes. Even if our prayers start with “God, if you are real…” we are establishing that we at least desire that there be a God to pray to and that we hope He does exist. Our hope extends to the idea that, if there is a God, then He wants to hear from us; that He actively desires for us to communicate with Him. We ascribe a certain power to God when we pray because we are certainly hoping that He can and will do something about our request.
This is the place from which we can grow in our confidence. There is not a wrong way to pray. I read this quote in Reader’s Digest that to try to pray is to pray. We cannot get praying wrong. But we can be more effective in it when we understand how to pray powerfully. Powerful prayer starts with having confidence when we pray.
Jesus did not lack confidence when He prayed. We know this because of what he said right before he raised Lazarus from the dead which was no small feat. “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? … Father, I thank you that you have heard me, I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:40-42)
Obviously, we are not Jesus. But we can pray with same confidence He had. No matter where we might be starting from, we can pray with the power that will cause us to see the glory of God. We can pray in such a way that others may believe too.
In his closing words on our Spiritual Armor, Paul gives us the elements of powerful prayer.
Pray in the Spirit
Pray all the time
Pray all kinds of prayers
Pray with watchfulness or alertness
Pray with perseverance
Pray for everyone
Paul is not telling us anything new here. We find all of these characteristics of prayer when we look at the life of Jesus. Paul simply does us the favor of pulling them all together and putting them in a place where we come to understand that prayer is supposed to be powerful.
Over the next several weeks we are going to look at each one of these in depth. I hope you stay with me in this journey. Grab your journal. If you don’t have one, get one. I will be providing you with questions and Scriptures to help you practice. You’ll want to write things down so you can how God responds. I had written my prayer for my son down. That is the only reason I remembered it!
I truly do believe that when we practice these principles we too will be able to pray with the confidence that says Father, I thank you that you have heard me, I knew that you always hear me.
Love and blessings,
Going Deeper This Week:
- Journal your thoughts about your prayer life.
- What prayers are you praying that are being answered?
- What prayers are you praying that are not being answered?
- Respond to the statements above about what praying says we believe.
- Honestly evaluate your confidence level in your prayers.
- Read Mark 9:14 – 29
- How well do you relate to the father with his “If you can…”?
- Do you believe Jesus when He says “Everything is possible for him who believes.”?
- How often is your response “I believe, help with my unbelief”?
Let this be your prayer this week: “Lord, I lay before you my doubts, my fears, my lack of confidence. Please take me from where I am Lord, and grow me to be more like Jesus that I might pray with His certainty that you have, do, and will hear my prayers.”