First in a short series of 2 paragraph essays on prayer:
I do not believe that my words or the forcefulness of my convictions are actually going to change anything. When I pray, I don’t feel powerful. I take a posture of helplessness and articulate my weakness. When I pray, I’m admitting what I can’t accomplish. I’m asking for help. Yes, I know that James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” but the power comes not from the words I speak but from the One who listens. I take God at his word when He says He can and will do great things on our behalf when we pray. I love the example of Elijah who was a man just like us–no better, no worse–and he prayed that it wouldn’t rain and it DIDN’T rain for three and a half years! He asked; God answered. I prayed that it would not rain on my wedding day. It did not rain. It was a crazy-hot day for the end of May in Wisconsin. Without the asking, the rain would not have stopped for Elijah and it may not have stopped for my wedding, but the power to stop the rain is God’s power alone. I can’t take credit, even if I did pray for it every day for a year. My prayers aren’t magic, it’s just that God is powerful.
Maybe I’m the only person who needed their thinking corrected, but I have a tendency to believe that the power of prayer depends on the power of my persuasion. I sometimes question whether my prayers have been “good” enough to be powerful and effective. I wonder if I’ve crafted the right words or asked for the right things. I wonder if I ought to try again with better phrasing. I often don’t feel I’ve spoken with enough conviction and I fear that those prayers won’t be as effective. But if the power of prayer lies not in my words but in the One who hears my words, that means that weak prayers, short prayers, uncertain prayers, prayers that are more questions than declarations, and even unarticulated longings are all equally powerful and effective because they are heard by our ever powerful God. Prayer isn’t powerful. God is.
Find part 2 here.