The power to influence the world belongs most of all to God’s children.
The quote made me stop in my tracks to consider the implications of those words. I was reading my devotion in the Today’s Light Bible, working through the book of Amos. Like many other prophets in the Old Testament, Amos warned God’s people that destruction was coming. They would be taken into captivity for their gross idolatry and failure to repent. In Amos 7, God shows His prophet two visions of the future. In one, a swarm of locusts completely strips the land of all crops. In the other, a fire consumed the land. After both visions, Amos cried out to the Lord and begged Him not to send such calamity upon Israel. And in both instances, God listened to Amos and relented from sending the disaster. Amos’ prayer changed the course of history for his nation.
Amos isn’t the only one whose prayer moved God to a different course of action. After the golden calf fiasco in the desert of Sinai, God was going to destroy the entire nation except for Moses, but Moses interceded and God relented (Exodus 32:9-14). Again and again in the Bible we are reminded how powerful prayer is. When Abraham’s servant prayed for success in finding a wife for Isaac, Rebekah came out before he was even finished praying (Genesis 24:10-21). Likewise, Daniel 9:23 tells us that as soon as Daniel started to pray, an answer was given. Clearly, there is power in prayer. But let’s be honest–how often do we wield this power? My own prayer life is meager at best, consisting of “popcorn prayers,” as we used to call them in college. Little snippets throughout the day–Lord, please bless Ben during his test today… Lord, please be with Helen who is sick. I try to pray at night while I’m lying in bed but often get distracted and/or fall asleep before I do any real praying. But if prayer is so powerful, think of how we Christians could change the world just by praying. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Okay, then, let’s ask. But how?
As a starting point, allow me to offer a few suggestions:
- Start with the Lord’s Prayer. Since Jesus Himself gave us this example, we can be sure it’s a good model to follow. Think about the petitions of this prayer: we hallow God’s name and ask that His will be done. We ask Him for our daily bread. We pray that He would forgive us and keep us from temptation and evil. If you’re trying to establish a daily praying habit, there’s no better place to begin than the Lord’s Prayer. Reflect upon the familiar words and let each petition lead you into more specific prayers. What sins do you need to confess? What “daily bread” do you need? In what areas do you want to see God’s will done in your life, the lives of others, and our nation?
- Find a prayer partner. If you’re going to train for a race or kick the habit of smoking, it makes a lot of sense to have a “buddy” for support. You’re less likely to skip a morning run if you’re supposed to meet someone and run together. You’re less likely to reach for a pack of cigarettes if you have someone who’s holding you accountable. The same is true of prayer. Maybe you and your spouse can pray together. Perhaps you can find a good friend or a fellow church member. You could even find a long-distance accountability partner. Text each other at a certain time every morning, say, to “check in” or to remind one another to pray. You’re more likely to start and continue a habit if you have someone supporting you and holding you accountable.
- Keep a prayer journal. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. You don’t even need to buy anything special. Just keep a list of intercessions and people you’re praying for. This helps you to stay focused and also helps you not to forget anyone or anything while you’re praying.
- Set aside a specific time and/or place. I have a tiny closet office where I write my books. Theoretically, I *could* write anywhere, even the kitchen table. But I feel more professional if I’m in my office. I don’t feel like an author when I’m sitting at the kitchen table, because that’s where we eat. But when I’m in my office, I’m automatically in the frame of mind that I’m there to write. The same holds true for praying. If you do it while in bed, your mind signals to you that you’re there to go to sleep. But kneeling is another matter entirely. It’s a posture we use for very few other activities in life. It puts you in the mindset that you’re there for a specific reason–to pray. Go ahead and write your prayer time into your schedule too. You’re less likely to skip it if it’s “officially” scheduled in.
So let’s pray, fellow Christians. Think of what could happen if all of us prayed consistently. Could we end abortion in our country? Reverse immoral legislation? End Christian persecution in the world? James 5:16 reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The power isn’t in us, of course. God is the one who answers prayer in line with His good and perfect will. Daniel 9:18 reminds us that “we do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.” That’s where the power lies. How incredible that God chooses to give that power to us through prayer. And now, please excuse me. I have something on my schedule.
It’s time to change the world.