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.
Edna Davidsen says
Today’s blog post Discovering the Power of Prayer Week #1 Understanding Prayer touches something that has laid itself as a dark memory since the happening.
As you say, I believe we all remember where we were at the time this terrible act took place.
In times like those, we’re brought closer together.
The power of praying is a source we can always tap into, and the Christian community sure did after September 11, 2001.
I don’t find it bold of you to say; we need voices today, that say what’s on our minds.
We need voices that stand up in the name of Jesus and share His solution that’s so much needed today.
I like your definition of prayer as a conversation with God.
The best conversations I’ve had with God have been those where I was able to listen with a clear mind.
There great power in being able to say “Lord, I surrender. Have your way in me.” But for me, it’s not always easy.
Your point about balancing requests and worshipping is worth considering.
How often haven’t I experienced myself giving instructions to God how I want Him to act?
Prayer is also a way for us to point others to Jesus.
Sometimes God will answer our prayers differently than we expected, but He will always listen to His children when we turn to Him.
I’ll share your post on social media, Saturday, September 23.
I look forward to your next blog post.
Melanie Redd says
Good word on prayer, Lauren.
I’m loving this series~
Beautiful post, Lauren. I remember where I was that day as well. And I watched the second, staring in shock. I was 15. I read somewhere that prayer IS the work. So often we find it easier to try and do things ourselves, but God does delight in helping us! Thanks for sharing this. 🙂
Esther Hosea says
Great post! I have grown so much in my relationship with God in resent years, and have experienced much of what you talk about here. Those moments of quiet listening, the times of surrender, the unloading of burdens, and the straight up adoration of my Lord! Thanks for the awesome challenges and encouragements!
Valerie Murray says
I love that you mention there is no cookie-cutter formula. At its core it is conversation with God. I find in my desperate times, I cry out to God in desperation, praying continually. Sometimes when life is just “going” I need to pause and remember to reflect on the Lord and allow Him to speak to my heart. I like to spend time in the morning in prayer. I also find that I like to talk to God while I’m driving. 😉
Connie from Master's Hand Collection says
Hi Lauren! I have seen the true power of prayer first hand in my life. It is amazing to witness what God will do when we take it to Him in prayer. Thank you for a beautiful reminder of the power of prayer.