Power of Prayer
Prayer is powerful! It’s something that’s been the heartbeat of the Judeo-Christian faith since the very beginning. However, it seems our perception of prayer has been diminished. Prayer isn’t just for our grandmas and mothers to do; it’s not just another reason for the church to call a gathering together. There has to be something more to it. This begs the question: why do Christians pray? What is the power of prayer?
Let’s understand prayer by using the Bible and personal testimonies. One of the clearest scripture passages about prayer is Matthew 6, most commonly known as the Lord’s prayer. Jesus starts by warning us to keep prayer sacred by not using it as a means to impress others. Instead, we are to pray in a way that honors an intimate personal moment with our God. This of course, is not to say never to pray out loud; it’s a common occurrence in the Christian faith to pray out loud with others.
He says this because He was correcting the false works-based view that the Pharisees had created and the customs of other regional religions. Jesus also states that we don’t have to ask God for things repeatedly. Why is that? Our God is a loving and attentive Father who knows us and our needs. We don’t have to work harder to get his attention. He is our “Abba,” and we are his children.
Jesus then gives us a prayer template. Our first step is to humbly acknowledge that God is our Father and His name is to be made holy or revered, set apart from all others. The next verse is where we see the missional aspect of prayer. Jesus says to ask Him for His Kingdom to come to Earth. As His followers, we get the chance to partner with God to see the fruition of His will on Earth. Without praying, we cannot expect to see people saved and delivered from strongholds, generational patterns, addiction, etc..… without praying. Praying is partnering with God to see his Kingdom come. This is why Youth With A Mission values prayer: because without prayer, our mission becomes hollow.
Our core desire at YWAM is to KNOW GOD so that we can enjoy, love, and serve him; making Him known. How can we know the will of God without knowing God and His voice? We believe that God speaks to us! This happens, most often, through prayer. At YWAM Asheville, times of group prayer and intercession are a part of our Discipleship Training curriculum and everyday culture.
Next, Jesus says that we are to ask God for our “daily bread”, which means that we depend on God for our daily needs, understanding that the needs of the future are also in His hands. Jesus ends with two more statements, “and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:12-13). Forgiveness is foundational to the Kingdom of God. Jesus led by example and practiced forgiveness. Even in his final moments on earth, He chose to forgive those who were crucifying him. He invites us into the same rhythm of grace.
Lastly, Jesus says that we should ask not to be led into temptation but to be delivered away from the evil one. This demonstrates to me the verbal acknowledgment that God is more powerful than evil. He is capable of making a way of righteousness for us, even though the evilest of circumstances.
Why Should We Pray?
Jesus answers the question of what prayer is and how to pray. The next question we need to answer is: why? A lot of times, I’ve struggled to believe that prayer is even more important, much less powerful. However, I’ve been pushed in my faith to a point where prayer was the only option; I had no other choice than to ask God and hope he would come through. And guess what…He’s been faithful every time.
God is a personal God, and prayer is the means of communicating with Him. How are we supposed to know someone when we don’t spend time with them? God delights in our prayers (Proverbs 15:18), so when we pray with an upright heart, we can take joy that our Father is pleased in hearing His children talk with Him.
Let’s switch lenses for a second. Most of what we’ve discussed is personal prayer times between God and us. Prayer is also something we can do for others. One of the most beautiful things I witnessed in my YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) involved prayer for others. When someone in our community had a need, we were able to rally behind them, pray over them, and encourage them…and then step back and see God come through and deliver. Together, as one body, approaching our Father with open hands and ready hearts.
How does prayer play a role at YWAM Asheville?
In the two YWAM schools and courses that I have completed, one of the things that have always remained constant in the Discipleship Training curriculum was intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is a time of group prayer for those in need. It can be for something as big as praying over an entire nation, an injustice, or something more specific like praying over an upcoming ministry time. Either way, intercessory prayer is at the heart of YWAM.
Missions without intercession would be like a car with no gas. It is by praying that we truly get to see the heart of God in action. In prayer times, I have seen God expand my ability to love others better because I get to sense how much He loves them. When I co-led an outreach trip to South Africa, I specifically remember during intercessory prayer when I felt God was revealing what He wanted to do in South Africa. It gave me a download of His heart and His will for His people, which sustained me during times of ministry; no matter how tired or hungry I was. That spiritual image was in the back of my head, helping me push through so I could partner with God in seeing His Kingdom come to fruition here on Earth. That trip yielded many testimonies of God’s faithfulness, and around 140 people came to know Jesus. It was incredible, but the only reason it was such a fruitful outreach was that we heard God’s will and allowed Him to move through us.
To bring this to a conclusion, let’s go back and review. We know what prayer is because Jesus tells us and shows us what it is. It’s an intimate moment between a loving Father and His children. The reason to pray? Our main reason for existence is to know God, and prayer (empowered by the Holy Spirit) is one important way we get to know the Father deeply. I hope that the power of what scripture says about prayer and the personal testimonies of my life will challenge you to see the importance and necessity of prayer in our lives.