Prayer: Does it Have Any Real Power?
Every one of us has struggled with issues that seem beyond our ability to fix. If you mention them out loud, you’re likely to get one or more offers for prayer. Most of us are polite enough to say thank you. Perhaps we even feel a warm sense of caring from the person offering to pray for us. But the real question is, does prayer have any real power, any real value? Or is it just something people say who don’t know what else to do?
Prayer as a Response to Need
Sometimes the best way to understand something complicated is to think about it in terms of something simple. We all know what it’s like to need or want something. Honestly, I have lost count of how many times my family members and friends have asked me for something. You may recognize some of these favorites. “Mom, can I have 20 bucks?” “Hon, can you sew this button on my shirt?” “Can you give me a ride to the mall?” No matter how many requests come in though, I never stop listening or trying to meet the needs of those who matter to me.
When human beings reach out in prayer to the Creator of the Universe, something similar happens. God ALWAYS listens to our prayers and He ALWAYS wants what is best for us too. But, as human beings we have limitations and we can’t always see the full picture. We don’t always understand what God is doing behind the scenes. So, there may be times when things don’t seem to work out the way we wanted. Too often, we figure that either God is not real, or that He just doesn’t care about us.
What Happens When People Pray for Us?
When people say they will pray for us, they are not saying that they are going to the boss to demand you get a raise. They’re not going to go convince someone to take you out on a date. And they are not going to figure out a way to make all your problems go away. So what are they doing? There are many ways to describe what happens during prayer time. Young (2011) does a great job of discussing five common prayer models that can be used in times of prayer. I encourage you to check them out. All of the models include a section where we bring requests to God. It’s important to realize what goes on during the request time because it’s much more involved than reading a list. I like to call it the “ABCD model of Presenting a Prayer Request.”
ABCD Model of Presenting a Prayer Request
- Acknowledge Inadequacy. In this stage, we admit that the situation is beyond our ability to take care of on our own. We are admitting our humanness, our limitations, and humbly coming to the Lord God, who has the power that we lack.
- Bring Burdens. Next, we talk to God and share what we know about the situation we want help. Although He already knows all the details, this part is really about deepening our relationship with each other, not presenting a fact list. We speak to God and God speaks to us.
- Consistency Check. In order for God to act on our behalf, our requests need to be in line with His character. The Holy Scriptures are our best resource for getting to know God’s character. For example, in 1 Peter 3:11 (New International Version) we read, “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” Prayers related to peace line up perfectly with God’s character. Prayers about causing chaos and division would not meet the consistency check. We can’t pray for better bank-robbing skills and think we’re going to get them!
- Desire Drop-off. We all have desires, whether we hide them or speak about them freely. However, even things that are good and pass the consistency check are not always in our best interest or the interest of others. We have to get to a place where we are honest about our hopes and dreams, but also willing to accept that God’s best is better than anything we could think up. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (Isaiah 55:11, New Living Translation).
Power-Packed or Powerless?
Let’s circle round and head back to our original question. Does prayer really have any power? Absolutely! I can’t guarantee you won’t encounter a “fake pray-er” once in a while. But if you encounter someone who regularly speaks to and hears from the Lord God Almighty (the one who hung the stars in the sky, turned the sea into dry land, and makes a way where there seems to be no way) you better EXPECT power in the answers!
Prayer Requests Submissions
I invite you to share your prayer requests with me personally or to post them in the comment section on the website. Other people do care and many of us would be glad to bring your burdens to God’s throne.
Young, Bob (2011). Five Prayer Models: ACTS, PARTS, Five-Finger, TRIP, Divine Reading. Retrieved at http://www.bobyoungresources.com/articles/prayer-models.htm
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.