When your TV shows burning buildings and people running and screaming around NYC, it doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of eating a doughnut and playing your favorite computer game. You drop everything and give your undivided attention to the news.
That was me on, Sept. 11, 2001, and I remember they day like it was just yesterday. How could anyone forget such a tragedy?
I remember watching the plane fly into the second tower. I remember watching my mother cry and running into her arms out of sheer terror. I remember not understanding what was going on. I remember feeling an urgent need to get on my knees and pray.
But I wasn’t the only one praying. In the days and weeks following Sept. 11, many local schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and churches gathered for a time of dedicated prayer. Even the evening news aired reports of people all around America joining together in prayer. We prayed for peace, healing, unity and courage — for the victims and their families, for ourselves, and for this great nation. And while it was a sad time, it was also a beautiful time because those prayers brought us closer to each other and to God.
You may think it bold of me to say, but I believe those prayers are what allowed this nation to rise from the ashes of that tragic day.
Because prayer is powerful. And when we understand prayer — what it is and how it works — we can experience this power in our very own lives.
Understanding Prayer: What It Is
At its core, prayer is having a conversation with God. And the beauty of this kind of conversation is that we don’t have to do our hair and make up or formally write down our prayers prior to entering God’s presence. All He asks is that we show up. It doesn’t matter the time or place. God is always there, and He is delighted to respond to us when we come to Him in prayer (Psalm 34:4).
There is no cookie-cutter prayer formula, and prayer looks different depending on the day.
Sometimes prayer is sitting in silence and waiting for God to speak. Sometimes prayer is praising God for who He is and what He is doing. Sometimes prayer is falling on our knees and bearing our soul. Sometimes prayer is weeping. Sometimes prayer is simple raising our hands and saying, “Lord, I surrender. Have your way in me.”
While the world and Hollywood often portray prayer as a way to present requests to God, there’s so much more to it than that. Prayer isn’t just a chance to lay our burdens at the Father’s feet. It’s also a chance to worship and praise Him.
Psalm 100:4 tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. So when we come to the throne, our first response should always be to praise God. If you’re feeling downcast and don’t know what to say, you can simply thank Him for who He is! Thank Him for being a personal God who made it possible for us to come to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thank Him for caring and loving this world. Thank Him for not giving up on us, no matter how many times we fail.
Prayer Nourishes the Soul
One of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis, once wrote, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” Prayer is more than a conversation — it is food for our souls! It brings healing. It brings safety and salvation. It is a refuge that can renew a weary soul. We were made to rely on the Lord in prayer.
Here are some of my favorite scripture references on prayer. I encourage you to look them up! They will be a great motivation for the seven weeks that lie ahead:
2 Samuel 22:3-4, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 102:17, Proverbs 15:8, Isaiah 40:29-31, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 6:5, Romans 8:26, Romans 12:12, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:7, James 5:16
Prayer Helps Us Overcome Evil
Romans 8:37 and Luke 10:17 are powerful reminders that, when it comes to spiritual battles, physical strength is not what enables us to overcome. In prayer, even the physically weak can become strong and gain power over evil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). When we call upon the name of Jesus and allow the Spirit to work through us, we aren’t just given the power to fight — we are given the power to defeat every evil and enemy that comes our way
Prayer Advances the Cause of Christ
God doesn’t need our help, but prayer allows us to enter into the ways in which He is at work in our lives and in the world around us. But prayer doesn’t just bring us closer to God. When we pray, especially in public, we help point others to Jesus too. And when God answers prayers, our testimony can serve as a witness for those who might be struggling with doubt.
Prayer is Powerful
In Hebrews 11, we see that faith pleases God. Because prayer is an act of faith, we please God when we run to him in prayer. Like an earthly father longs to hear his son or daughters voice, our Heavenly Father longs to hear ours as well.
So my question to you today is this? How’s your prayer life? Are you setting aside time to spend with God each day?
There is no better time than right now to devote our days to walking in communion with God the Father. And the best way to walk with Him is to be connected to Him through prayer.
Later in this series, we’ll talk about how to create a weekly prayer schedule, but for today, why not aim to spend just five minutes with God? Turn your eyes to Him and talk to Him. Thank Him for who He is and praise Him for what He has done in your life. Then cast whatever cares you may have on Him and see where He might lead.
God is always near, and He desperately wants to hear from you.
If you want to go deeper and discover more about the power of prayer in your own life, you’re invited to join us over the next seven weeks as we continue this journey. You can sign up for my free newsletter in the sidebar to the right of this post, or just come back to the blog next week for the next #PowerofPrayerBlogSeries post.