Crosswalk.com

What Exactly Is the Power of Prayer?

Meg Bucher
senior man in prayer for abundant life

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).

Prayer is powerful. When we make the Lord our first resort, seeking Him in prayer, the power of His presence is unleashed in our lives. 1 Chronicle uses the words look and seek. In some translations, the text is translated into the English word for seek in both instances, but they are two different words in the original Hebrew translation. The Hebrew Lexicon explains that “look,” in regards to seeking, means to seek out God, specifically. The other “seek” means to require, desire, exact, or request. Paul wrote to the Philippians,

“Dont worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).

Instead of scrolling for inspiration, we can seek the face of the One who knows our hearts completely. Nehemiah wrote, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” The origin of our strength is rooted in the Lord. Prayer makes us strong!

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

When Does the Bible Say to Pray?

Two people praying

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises” (James 5:13).

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Scripture tells us to pray constantly, consistently, with great faith in and knowledge of Who we pray to! Never is an impossible standard apart from Christ Jesus. It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit in us through Him, coupled with our choice to establish a discipline of prayer in our lives, which gives us the strength to stay connected to God. Matthew wrote,

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44).

Statements such as this highlight the impossibility of the command never stop praying. The Lord is able to soften and change our hearts as we obediently choose to honor Him by praying for our enemies. It’s the opposite of the world’s strategy, or what it deems fair. But God promises to defend and shield us if we will leave our enemies in His hands.

“The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

Over and over Scripture reminds us that God hears our prayers, and answers. Proverbs 15:29 reads,

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

Before our prayers have completely left our minds, hearts and lips, He hears and is already answering us! We can trust He hears us, sees, and has good plans and purposes for our lives, which He accomplishes according to His will.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Jantanee Rungpranomkorn

The Power of Confession

Man kneeling at the altar of a church

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16).

Confession is a powerful privilege. A literary stroll through the Old Testament will faithfully remind us we are living in New Covenant times! The Messiah has come, and we no longer need to offer animal sacrifices, and follow an abundance of ceremonial laws, just to confess our sins to the Lord in exchange for forgiveness. The apostle John wrote,

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).

In the eyes of the Lord, we are always forgiven, and never loved less. He wants us to come to Him. In fact, He desires a relationship with us. We are created to crave a closeness with the Lord. He faithfully made a way for us by sacrificing His Son for our imperfect and unworthy status. John wrote,

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We come to the Father through the Son. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Christ, we have new life, connected to our Father powerfully in prayer as the Holy Spirit ignites and activates in our everyday lives.

Photo credit: Unsplash/benwhitephotography

God’s Response to our Prayers

silhouette of woman looking out at starry night sky

“In those days when you pray, I will listen” (Jeremiah 29:12).

God’s response is birthed from who He is. God is love, mercy, justice, provision and healing. All of who He is motivates His answer to our prayers. He is a Promise Keeper and Sustainer. He is all-knowing and everywhere. Job 22:27 says,

“You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.”

Living in the New Testament era, we know all who believe in Christ as their Savior will see the face of God for eternity. Our time on earth will pass away, to the number of days only God knows. Prayer holds us together on earth until we get to embrace our Savior in heaven. The apostle Mark wrote,

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

Trusting the will of God for our lives is good, we can pray in Jesus’ Name, trusting God to right any discrepancies between the prayers we request and His will for our lives.

God is trustworthy.

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 17:6).

Creator of our hearts, He recognizes each one’s cry as a shepherd does his sheep. Prayer can move the heart of God! It not only strengthens us, but it activates a supernatural power, which reigns over the world beyond what we can see, hear, and even know. But we can trust in who God is, and His promise to hear and answer us.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/m-gucci

The Completeness of Prayer

Mom and young son praying with their heads together

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Daily prayers for my children have grown exponentially over the last decade. I began to pray specifically that God would keep them safe, healthy, and guarded in Christ Jesus. Over the years, I felt the need to specify, praying: keep them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually safe and healthy; and guard their hearts, minds, emotions, bodies and souls in Christ Jesus, today and always. The Spirit convicted me one morning, God already knows what I mean by keep them safe, healthy and guarded in Jesus.

The framework by which we are to pray was given to us by Jesus. Matthew recorded His directives:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

This simple structure gives us powerful words, and unending strength! When we don’t know what to pray, we can turn to this, or any, example in Scripture and trust in the power of the Living Word of God. Sometimes, all we can do is sit at the feet of the Father and cry, and He faithfully meets us there, too. Paul wrote,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Thitaree Sarmkasat

The Power of the Holy Spirit

man pointing up one God

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. We receive Him when we submit our lives to Christ Jesus. He is with us, always, to the end of every age, through the Holy Spirit of the Living God residing in us. The power of prayer has much to do with the Spirit! He translates for us and to us! Paul wrote,

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).

The Spirit is active when we pray. “Search me, God,” Psalm 139:23 says, “and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” The closer we become to God, the more we understand His power and seek Him and rely on Him for the strength we need to navigate His purposes for our lives on this earth. We hold onto the hope we have in Jesus, by the Spirit of the Living God living in us. God is not coincidental. He knows all – He knows us – specifically and individually.

The Word of God, alive and active, has the power to transform our daily lives and the permanent countenance of our hearts. The Spirit is actively involved in this process. John wrote,

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:6).

Conclusion

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

Life isn’t easy, nor were we promised it would be. Always, is a promise akin to never. The only One capable of truly upholding either is the Lord, Himself. But the Spirit, alive and active in us, makes it possible for us to do impossible things, in Christ. Prayer is powerful.

More from this author
What Does the Bible Say about Listening?
Don’t Stay Stuck on the Basics, but Move towards a Mature Faith
Jesus, Our Powerful Redeemer and Rescuer

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/master1305