Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prayer Avails Much

I just love prayer. I'm so thankful that God has ordained it as the means by which He moves. I wish everyone could experience answers, miraculous answers, to prayers like I do. I believe it's God's will that everyone does!

John Wesley once said, "God will do nothing, but in answer to prayer."

I don't know if that's true, but it sure seems like it sometimes.

I have recently begun to pray regularly again with a prayer partner. Now, I believe that individual prayers are powerful. When I get up early and pray for specific needs, I see God work, always. However, corporate prayer, praying with someone in agreement regularly, is tremendously effective. It seems the more difficult answers come quickly that way: Hearts are changed, conflicts are resolved and seemingly impossible obstacles are removed.

When you begin to pray regularly with someone, it fuels your faith. As answers come over and over again, your faith grows and it really restores your hope in all that God has for your life. You can actually say, "All things are possible with God" and believe it!

I have seen a bumper sticker around town that says "Nothing fails like prayer." How sad to believe that. How defeated that person's life must be. My heart breaks for individuals that are convinced of that unhappy lie.

One of the many Scriptures that God has highlighted in my life regarding prayer is:

"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him."
1 John 5:14-15

I LOVE this verse because we KNOW that if it's God's will - He will do it. I used to worry and fret over this verse wondering, "But how do we know if it's God's will?" No longer does that worry me because it's fairly easy to tell if something is His will.

Here are the guidelines I use:

Does it line up with what the Scriptures say that God desires? For example, the Scriptures tell us to be anxious for nothing. Therefore, if I pray that I will not be anxious about something, I KNOW that I'm praying in God's will because the Scriptures command/request this. If I am praying for peace, I know that's God's will. If I am praying for someone's salvation, I know that's God's will. If I am praying for deliverance from fear, I know that's God's will.

Knowing something is God's will changes the way you pray. You pray with the faith required to see answers. You pray with total confidence, without doubt and worry. You pray with assurance that God will answer that prayer - hopefully immediately - but without a doubt that it will be done.

Now, for all other things that may or may not be God's will, we submit to His will. For example, I wanted my husband to work on a project that he promised to do but had not found time to do. So, after worrying and fussing about it for weeks, I finally took it to God (why don't I begin there?) and I prayed very confidently, "LORD, if it's your will, I pray that he will work on that project this week." Truly, I had to get my heart right and pray this with perfect submission, with a willingness to let go of the matter if it's not God's perfect will. I think a lot of times, God is waiting for us to be so submitted to Him that we are willing to accept whatever answer He has for us (I have so many examples of this in my life, it's a shame that I still struggle to submit my will to God's!)

But guess what! It apparently WAS God's will because, without a single word from me, he not only began work on the project, but completed it within two days. I'm positive that if I had "nagged" him about it, it would still remain undone today.

My husband often plays this song during our family worship time. Though I'm not fond of the twangy tempo, I love the words in this hymn:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!I

n His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear

May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Prayer is powerful. Nothing works like prayer. It's the most amazing gift that we have at our disposal as Children of the Most High God. Paul claims in Philippians that it is because of their prayers (and the help of the Holy Spirit) that he was delivered to safety. It was prayer that moved angels to break Peter out of prison. Even Elijah was told what God's will was - to bring rain - but he got down on his knees in travailing prayer to usher in the will of God. They are examples to us - God has a plan and a purpose, but He wants us to pray.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16