Do My Prayers Have the Power to Change Things?
Do My Prayers Have the Power to Change Things?
Meg Bucher Writer and Author
Do our prayers have the power to change things? Scripture promises God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous, and prayer is powerful enough to move the very heart of God.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
Do our prayers have the power to change things? The phrase, prayer is powerful, has been frequently repeated, posted and tweeted. Prayer is powerful because of Who we pray to. Scripture promises God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous, and prayer is powerful enough to move the very heart of God. Righteousness comes from God through the holiness of Christ, which produces evidential growth in us as we pursue life within His love.
Through Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit living in us prays our prayers to God, rendered to accurately express what we actually need, according to God’s will for our lives. “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,” Paul wrote, “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). Prayer has life-changing power.
What the Bible Says about How Prayer Changes Things
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
The power of prayer reaches beyond our human ability to properly express and understand what our souls need from God. The Holy Spirit, living in every Christ follower, intercedes for us through prayer and in prayer with the Father in heaven. Jesus’ powerful sacrifice on the cross made a way for the Holy Spirit to abide in every Christ follower.
Counselor and Comforter, He intercedes on our behalf and translates our prayers. It is this power of the living God in us which makes prayers of the righteous powerful. Jesus is the living word of God, and He is always with us! We are ordinary people, whom God hears because of who He is. “Prayer is effective,” Jonathan Parnell explains, “not because of great men who pray, but because of a great God who in Christ graciously hears his people.”
Scripture records many prayers to God, asking Him to search the heart, cleanse hidden sin, renew and restore. Strongholds of sin can deceitfully develop inwardly, restricting our reliance on the power of God to reveal, convict, heal and restore. “Prayer has to come from the right heart,” Stormie Omartian explains, “because when you’re praying for someone else, you can’t be praying manipulative prayers or angry prayers or prayers with unforgiveness in your heart.”
James implored early Jewish Christians in his letter, who were scattered and facing difficulty, to confess their sins to and pray for one another. He implored them, applicable to our present hearts, to remember and embrace the power of prayer. “Healed is sometimes used for physical healing, but it is also used metaphorically for spiritual restoration,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “the metaphorical sense being preferred in light of James’s apparent emphasis on spiritual strengthening.” God places us purposefully in each others lives, for accountability, intercession in prayer, conviction, encouragement, and ways we may never know were His until we look back to see His hand in our every situation and conversation. Prayer, individually and corporately, is powerful.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images
The Power of Change in Elijah’s Prayer
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
Elijah was an ordinary man with great faith in God. Yahweh is the source of all righteousness. God hears our prayers through the Way He made for us, out of the love He has for us, because of who He is. Elijah’s prayer, recorded in 1 Kings 17-18, reveals a powerful example of the prayers of the righteous. “Elijah had agonized over the sin of his people and had prayed to the Lord for corrective measures to be levied on his people,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains. He was chosen by God to deliver a convicting message to the people of Israel concerning their idolatry to false gods.
Everything God does and allows is meant to draw His people, and us, closer to Him. Elijah’s powerful prayer was answered by God according to His will, and His character. There would be no rain, or even dew, until the proper time. “Elijah,” the New Bible Commentary explains, “was also an ordinary man but, …he had an extraordinary God who heard and answered prayer.” God’s ways are not our ways. He hears and faithfully answers our prayers, however the response may not be exactly what we prayed for. We can rest assured His ways exceed the expectations and hopes of our wildest dreams.
James “focused on the power of Elijah’s prayer to bring about great good,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “and thereby drew the parallel with effectiveness of the prayer of elders to help restore one who is weak.” God is good, and He makes good even out of bad circumstances and evil intentions. Only He knows the true infrastructure of each human heart, and can accordingly answer the prayers of the righteous with justice and compassion every single time. It is for this reason, we pray in Jesus’ Name. “Do we realize the power we have available to us when we take our authority in prayer?” Heather Riggleman wrote for christianity.com, “ If we did, we would be praying in Jesus’ name more.”
How to Pray Powerful Prayers That Change Things
“The prayer of the righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16b)
Jesus instructed His disciples, and all Christ followers, how to pray:
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9-13)
Before Jesus was arrested and began His long and arduous walk to the cross, He prayed with and for His disciples:
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,” He prayed, “since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given.” (John 17:1-2)
Jesus went on to pray for himself, his disciples, and all believers. It’s a powerful prayer we can take note of when we seek to break through strongholds in our own lives and the lives of others.
Everything we have, and do, comes from the Father’s authority. The Greek word for authority in context of the prayer John recorded, is exousia. It means “power of choice; power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed). The definition is lengthy, and affirms God’s authority and sovereign control over all creation and everything in it. Prayer, heard and answered by Yahweh is the most powerful weapon we can wield on this earth over our own circumstances, and the circumstances of those whom we go to battle for through prayer. “God remembers every prayer we pray,” Debbie Przybylski explains, and every one of them prayed through the power of the Holy Spirit has effect on earth.”
Photo Credit: © Getty Images / Halfpoint Images
10 Powerful Verses about How Prayer Changes Things
2. “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
3. “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
4. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
5. “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6
6. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
7. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
8. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1
9. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
10. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
A Powerful Prayer for Everyday Life
Holy Spirit, Comforter and Counselor. Glory to You, the One True and Triune God. By Your power and authority we live and breathe. Our lives are purposed by You, alone, perfectly placed in our current time and place. May we always recognize Your sovereignty and grace. Through Christ, we come to You today in gratitude for our lives, our blessings, and the hope we have in You. Holy Spirit, faithfully translate the content of our hearts today, and always, as we seek the Father’s holy and perfect will for our lives.
We confess our sins today, the ways we fall short, the repetitive strongholds we fail to shake, and unwillingness lodged into the corners of our hearts. Banish indifference from our very souls, Father, and ignite in us a fresh awakening to the power of prayer, of Your Word, and who You are. Draw us closer to You, make us anew, and teach us to pray compassionately and openly to You, always. Bless and heal the hurts we carry, both physically and mentally. Prepare us for the hurdles ahead, and slow us to relish the moments of praise to You.
May we feel You close, and follow You always. Teach us to pray powerful prayers on behalf of our own lives and especially on the behalf of those whom You place purposefully in our lives to intercede for. Bless our world with peace, unity, and love.
In Jesus’ Name,
New Bible Commentary. Copyright Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Leicester, England, 1953, 1954, 1970, 1994 All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: © Pexels/Caleb Oquendo
Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters and golden doodle.
This article is part of our larger Prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
Now available is our new Daily Prayer devotional! An easy way to find start your day with prayer, read today’s prayer and sign up to receive by email.