A group of Christians in Scotland was being chased by their persecutors until finally they were exhausted. As they reached a small hill separating them from their enemies their leader Old Saunders said, “Let us pray here, for if the Lord does not hear our prayer we are all dead men.” Old Saunders prayed, “Spin them about the hill, O Lord and throw Your cloak about us.” Before Saunders finished his prayer a mist rose around the hill and wrapped itself around the group. In vain their enemies tried to find them but God had hidden them from view.
We can find a story like that quite moving and yet so often we fail to believe that God can change our own situation through prayer.
A man visited his minister and complained that as he grew older he was getting farther and farther away from God. His minister said, “How often do you pray?” the man said, “Oh I don’t have time for that.” The fact is that if we are too busy to pray we are too busy.
One thing we must realise … our prayers are not always answered in the way we expect! All too frequently we try to read the mind of God. When things don’t happen the way we expect or hope for, we fall into the trap of saying that God does not hear our prayers.
God changes things through prayer and God changes us through prayer.
As a little girl Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India, wanted blue eyes because she did not like her brown eyes. She even asked God to give her blue eyes. After praying for blue eyes Amy went to sleep. Next morning she bounded out of bed and rushed to a mirror only to find her eyes were still brown. God however knows best. When Amy grew up, the eyes she wanted changed as child became the means of her saving many Indian children from death. With brown eyes Amy passed for an Indian.
God through prayer changes us from being selfish to being unselfish. Without a strong prayer life no one can maintain even the appearance of a truly Christlike life. No one can reflect the image of Christ unless they keep in touch with Him through prayer.
God through prayer enlarges our life and brings inner comfort. God comforts us on lonely days and supports us in times of despair. God helps us get through dark days when we connect with Him in prayer. The amazing thing is that prayer is an act of fellowship.
We tend to forget too that prayer is primarily God speaking to us and not us speaking to God. We find God in prayers. He is always there ahead of us. Too often we try to walk our own way. When things go wrong we turn to God seeking His help. The smart way to live our lives is to seek God first in prayer and ask Him for directions.
Then again we must take care in what we pray for. For too long we have seen prayer as something we use to get what we want from God, rather than as a key ingredient of our fellowship with God. Prayer is an instrument God uses to mould us into His will. Prayer brings us into personal contact with our perfect and loving Heavenly Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In prayer we can reach out to the world where people are in need. Who can tell or measure the bounds of prayer’s influence? God even widens the walls of the Christian heart through prayer and strengthens the soul. By means of prayer, God gives understanding to the printed word and power to the preacher. God can give us a new outlook even as we pray. God is able to give us a sense of fellowship with other Christians and can help us see the world through the eyes of Christ as we pray.
God uses prayer to transform our inner lives. By means of prayer God is able to change the whole direction of our lives. In the hands of God, prayer has a transforming power. How is it we find it so easy to accept that radio and television waves travel through the air at amazing speed and yet we find it hard to believe in the power of prayer? Prayer is the bridge to our Heavenly Father however, there are many roadblocks that would prevent us using this bridge. If only we realised the power of prayer and that prayer is one of the greatest miracles, we would use this bridge far more. The book of Luke is a wonderful guide for our prayer life. It would be a great help to Christians if they took time to read the two books of Luke and discover exactly what he says about prayer. Luke links the present and the future through prayer – what is now and what is yet to be. Prayer is a root that helps us grow in Christ and in the knowledge of God’s love. Through prayer we grow in grace and we are linked from this life into the next.
When we read what Luke says about prayer, we realise that God uses prayer as an amazing force in His program of redemption. When we pray we need to realise the place of prayer in God’s plan of saving the world. While we pray for others and others pray for us, we are responsible for our own prayer life.
When we understand that Christ is in us and we are in Him our whole theology of prayer changes. We come to realise that God has placed Christ in the very centre of our whole existence. On the practical side, in spite of all this there are many Christians who prefer to worry rather than pray.
Here is some practical advice about prayer. A Chinese evangelist, Leland Wong, had this advice for people who worry. He said, “If you must worry, follow this advice. First ‘Don’t worry when you eat. You get indigestion,’ Second ‘Don’t worry when you go to bed for you’ll sleep better and wake with a clear head so that you can worry better tomorrow!’ Third ‘Don’t worry about two things at once or you’ll only get confused!’ Fourth ‘If you must worry take your Bible to a quiet place and say, Lord let us worry together.’”
This of course gets to the heart of the matter. For when we realise the presence of Christ, that He is in us and we are in Him, then prayer really becomes a miracle and we start to experience the power of prayer. Prayer and Christ are interwoven. The two are inseparable and the wonderful thing is that the Lord Jesus is able to lead us to the throne of grace even to the very heart of God. This is the miracle and power of prayer!
By David Nicholas