Does prayer really change things? We hear that it does. There are affirming statements printed and framed, encouragement reminders painted on knick-knacks, sold on tee-shirts, and more. But are we experiencing the changing power of prayer on a day-to-day basis?
Does prayer really change things? We hear that it does. Affirming statements are printed and framed; encouragement reminders are painted on knick-knacks, sold-on tee-shirts, and more. But are we experiencing the changing power of prayer on a day-to-day basis? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 urges us to,
It can be difficult, especially as women, to put our confidence and trust in prayer to bring change within ourselves, those we love, our community, our nation, and even the world. Prayer sometimes leads us to "do something," but it more often leads us to wait patiently on God. As Psalm 130:5 encourages,
“I wait for the Lord; my soul does wait, and in His word, I put my hope.”
The enemy of our souls despises prayer because he has witnessed how it works. The Apostle James wrote, "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Philippians 4:6 urges, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God."
Prayer Brings Change
Nowhere does the Bible say the exact phrase, "Prayer changes things." But in real-life stories included within its many pages, God's word inspires, encourages, and urges us to follow their examples, where prayer certainly did change things. Stories like Hannah, who desperately prayed for a baby. As 1 Samuel 1:10 describes, "In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly." Through her sincere petitions to God, she received her heart's desire by becoming the mother of Samuel. "So, over time, Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the Lord for him" (1 Samuel 1:20).
Likewise, is the story of Queen Esther, who asked her community to pray (and fast) before taking the life-and-death risk of asking the King to spare their lives (Esther 4:16). "Then Queen Esther answered, 'If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it please you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.'" Through Esther's call for prayer, the malicious scheme to destroy the Jews was stopped, and her people were spared (Esther 8:11).
Over and over, Scripture reveals the amazing changes prayer initiated in one person's life to entire nations. These stories help to build faith within us and to believe, like the changes recorded in its pages, we can experience remarkable changes in our lives, too.
Prayer Changing Stories
Many of our prayer-changing stories are private, where lives are changed, unaware of our prayers for them. Ephesians 6:18 directs us,
“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.”
What wonderful freedom we have to pray as God leads without having to say a word to those we are praying for. Sometimes God nudges us to share how we pray for them, but more often than not, these prayers are between us and God. God receives praise when we keep our prayers for others close to our hearts, resisting taking credit for our participation. After all, He is the One who initiates a changed heart. 1 Samuel 10:9 gives us an example, "As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day."
Prayer Changing Rewards
When we pray as God leads, He not only answers but also brings us closer to Him in our relationship, knowing He listens and hears us. Psalm 66:19 assures us, "But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." Likewise, confidential prayer leads to eternal rewards. Jesus explains to us in Matthew 6:6,
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Most likely, many of us are experiencing benefits from others' secret prayers on our behalf. Prayers maybe our hearts wouldn't have been open to receiving at the time if they had told us. In considering the possibilities, my heart has been giving thanks to God for unknown prayers others may have spoken for me. I am grateful for how their words have brought godly changes to my life and still benefit me today.
Thankfully, unlike most things on earth, prayer has no expiration date. Answered prayers today may come from prayers spoken generations before us by great-great-grandparents, relatives, and Christian leaders we may never have met, heard of, or known of. 2 Corinthians 1:11 explains how many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Prayer Changes Us
Luke 9:29 describes a scene in the Bible where Jesus is praying.
"As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning."
Many of us don't grasp how prayer changes us the most. Like Jesus, prayer changes us, too. We may not even be aware of it at first, but as we continue to pray, changes occur within us that become apparent on the outside, too. Maybe others aren't seeing our faces changing and our clothes lighting up like Jesus on top of the mountain, but changes are taking place, and although they may not be able to put their finger on why we seem different, our time in prayer will shine through us in ways others will notice.
3 Ways to Pray for Change
So if prayer really does change things, how do we start? The following are three ways to begin.
1. Ask God to lead us in prayer.
Ask Him to give us insight and reveal areas to pray for ourselves, our loved ones, and our nation. As Luke 11:1 describes, "One day, Jesus prayed in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'" When we ask and seek God, He will lead us in how to pray. Romans 8:26 explains, "Similarly, 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."
2. Include God's word in our prayers.
Studying and knowing His word will help us to pray for God's will rather than our own. Psalm 119:105 explains, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” When concerns arise, the world's influence and advice will most likely take us in the wrong direction, but GodGod'srd will lead us in godly ways to pray.
3. Keep praying.
Especially at times when we are praying but not seeing any changes, we can feel discouraged. It can seem like God isnisn'taring us. Yet, Psalm 55:17 assures us, “Mo"ning, noon, and night, I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.” Many times, it can seem like our prayers are causing things to become much worse, where the person or situation is heading in the opposite direction from what we are praying to happen. Especially in these times, we want to be determined to keep praying and not give up. Like Isaiah 50:7 describes, “Because the"Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
Whenever w" get the urge to give up, we want to remember where our hope lies, knowing the circumstances may be misleading and not revealing what God is truly doing behind the scenes and within our hearts. Psalm 5:3 encourages us, “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”
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Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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