On January 20, 2021, thirteen local churches began a 30-day prayer vigil. Every morning and every evening, folks were invited to come together to pray for our nation and our local community. Partway through the prayer vigil, someone suggested they utilize Zoom for those who couldn’t make it in person. This was a blessing, because from February 15-19 (the final day of the prayer vigil, interestingly), Texas experienced a major ice storm that devastated the entire state.

Without plows and salt trucks and shovels, people were snowed in. Most people lost power completely or at least experienced rolling blackouts. People couldn’t get to stores, and even if they could, stores were out of everything because the trucks couldn’t get through to stock items. Water pipes burst. And even though the prayer vigil folks in our town could no longer meet in person, they persisted in prayer over Zoom meetings. All told, they prayed together 72 times in 30 days.

And an amazing thing happened.

Texas was 4 minutes and 37 seconds away from a statewide blackout that could have left us all without power for weeks. The state electric grid demanded rolling outages during the ice storm, and all the towns around us had rolling blackouts and complete power outages. But our town wasn’t affected at all. Our power never so much as flickered off for a second. Coincidence, you might say? Perhaps. But I choose to believe it was because we were covered in prayer.

If I believe in the power of prayer—and I do—then accounts like this shouldn’t surprise me. No, prayer isn’t a magic button. Just because we pray for something fervently doesn’t mean God will answer the way we want Him to. That’s part of the mystery of praying. Sometimes God answers above and beyond what we’re expecting, but sometimes His answer is no or not yet. But that shouldn’t deter us from praying. Prayer is quite possibly the most untapped resource of all for Christians. Ask any Christian about their prayer life, and they’re bound to give a sheepish look and a rueful answer, “I know I should prayer more, but…” Just think of how we could impact the world if all Christians were to seriously commit to prayer. If you’re concerned, like I am, about the state of our country and our world, our first defense should be prayer.

We need to know this: all our shelter and protection rest in prayer alone. For we are far too weak to deal with the devil and all his power and followers who set themselves against us. They might easily crush us under their feet. Therefore, we must consider and take up those weapons with which Christians must be armed in order to stand against the devil. For what do you imagine has done such great things up til now? What has stopped or quelled the counsels, purposes, murder, and riot of our enemies, by which the devil thought he would crush us, together with the Gospel? It was the prayer of a few godly people standing in the middle like an iron wall for our side.

Martin Luther, explanation to the Lord’s Prayer in the Large Catechism

Here’s the thing about prayer—you don’t have to commit huge blocks of time to it. You don’t have to fast (although you could, if you’d like). But I think most of us could use a little more structure in our prayer lives. I take a morning walk each day and pray while I’m walking, but I’ll be honest. My mind is terribly prone to wandering. Far more often than not, I find myself mentally planning my day and then, when I have a block or two left on my walk, I cram all my prayer requests in. It’s not the most ideal circumstance for praying. But research shows that just twelve minutes of daily focused prayer over eight weeks can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. So who else wants to experience that mind-changing power?

Over the next eight weeks, I will post a different topic and prayer every day. I encourage you to join me for just twelve minutes a day. Set aside a specific time each day, if possible, perhaps first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or just before you go to bed. Set a timer to keep you focused, and try not to multitask during this time (in other words, I won’t do this on my morning walk!). My written prayers won’t take you 12 minutes to read, but elaborate upon the topic and add your own petitions. If nothing else, pray the prayer over and over again or go back and read previous prayers until the timer goes off. Perhaps you’d like to conclude each session with the Lord’s Prayer as well. At the beginning, 12 minutes might seem daunting, but I’m willing to bet that by the end you’ll be exceeding the 12 minutes without even peeking at the clock. Let’s impact ourselves, our families, our communities, our country, and our world with the power of prayer.