Understanding the Power of Prayer

Posted by Tsedey Tadesse, Contributing Writer, on Nov 30, 2018

Understanding the Power of Prayer

According to The Gospel Coalition, there are about 650 prayers with 450 answers to prayers recorded in the Bible. Jesus was recorded praying 25 times throughout His ministry. Paul talks about prayer 41 times. Right after creation, God Himself initiates the conversations with Adam and Eve in the garden and with Cain after he murdered his brother, Abel. When the Bible addresses prayer, it helps us understand the power of prayer.

 “At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD.” – Genesis 4:26

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is defined as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” In the Bible, prayer is a means of interacting with God. When we are commanded to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), we are instructed to pray consistently and continually.

What Are Common Misconceptions of Prayer?

Growing up, I heard some things about prayer. My father used to say that God is too busy to be disturbed with our minor issues. I think this belief might have developed from seeing God as a King only. It is true that we would not disturb an earthly king or president with our daily issues. But God is described not only as a King but also as a loving father. For those of us with children, there is nothing too small for our children to ask or talk to us about. We even feel good when they trust us enough to request our help or advice.

In Philippians 4:6, we are commanded, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Another common misconception is believing that praying hard, saying the right words, and having a stronger faith will make God hear us and answer our prayers more often. In reality, God always answers our prayers. The answer can be a yes, no, or not yet. A lot of people have been scarred by wrong doctrine that God always answers positively if we have a great faith and pray properly. This teaching assumes that God is limited by our ability for a positive response. God never promised a positive outcome when He commanded us to pray. Even Jesus was not granted His wish when He asked, "if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39).

What Does Prayer Teach Us?

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. In Matthew 6:9-13, we find what we call the Lord’s Prayer. The first two verses focus on who God is, verse 11 requests for God to meet our physical needs, and verses 12-13 deal with our spiritual well-being and His protection. When we pray, we first need to know how big and able God is. If we do not have confidence in God, we will not have confidence in our prayer. We also need to know how good God is. We need to look at God as a loving, capable father who wants to spend time with us. Our view and belief of God affects our prayer life. Then, we need to focus on our daily needs. It is so tempting to start worrying about tomorrow, next month, and next year. God knows how He created us. He instructed us to pray for our daily bread so that we come to Him every single day. It also reminds us where our help comes from and prevents us from depending on and making idols out of our money, job, health, and position. Finally, we are reminded to focus on our spiritual health and to ask for protection. Though we live in a physical world, we are spiritual beings. Prayer is our main weapon against our spiritual enemy.

 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” -- Ephesians 6:12

How Powerful Is Prayer?

In the book of Esther, we learn that a decree was passed to annihilate the Jews. Esther called for the people to fast and pray for three days before she approached the king. God turned the table, and those who wanted to bring destruction received the judgement. Does God still work like that today? The answer is yes. About seven months ago, Ethiopia was on the verge of destruction because of a few people who had a decree to annihilate one ethnic group. Every Ethiopian Christian denomination in the country and around the world called for a time of fasting and prayer. Six months ago, God turned the table and raised up one of His own from the enemy’s camp. Everyone was marveled how our current Prime Minister was able to accomplish so much in Ethiopia in such a short period of time. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

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