What I’ve Been Learning About Prayer

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I mentioned in another post that two weeks ago, I stayed for a week in Tennessee at a Christian camp (TeenPact National Convention).  It was a life-changing experience.  The theme for the week was “prayer.” Little did I know at the time how much I needed that message.  God taught me so much that week, and I wanted to share what God’s been teaching me with you all. 🙂

Prayer is powerful. 

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
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Our prayers are not just words said to ourselves in private during our morning quiet times.  Our prayers have “great power.”
God demonstrated the power of prayer for me firsthand when I was gone two weeks ago.  It wasn’t a coincidence that the theme for the week was prayer.  I needed to hear every single session that week.  After sessions, we had a small group time, where we (you guessed it) broke up into small groups and prayed for each other.  One of the girls in my small group was late, so we started without her.  When she finally came to our small group spot, she told us that a lady from her church had had a stroke and wasn’t expected to be alive much longer.  We prayed for comfort for this girl’s family, and we prayed that if it was God’s will, He would heal this lady.
Fastforward a few days.  I was home, and I heard the bing of an incoming text message.  It was from the girl I’d met at camp.  She told me that the lady from her church came out of her coma and would be released from the hospital after some physical therapy.  I got chills just thinking about it.  Now, the easy thing to do would be to say “That’s great!” and forget about it.  But I didn’t blow it off.  God used this story to teach me how powerful prayer is, if we only have faith.

Prayer involves faith.  This was something that God taught me, something that really struck me hard.  Prayer involves faith.  Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this:

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

~ James 5:15

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

~ Mark 11:24

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

~ James 1:5-8

Ouch.  When I pray, though I know that God can do anything, I doubt whether He actually will.  I doubt.  And what does the verse above say?  “That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  God convicted me that I need to believe, I need to have faith that God will answer my prayers, that God wants to do what I ask Him to do.

Prayers are always answered.  God always, always answers our prayers.  Yes, sometimes the answer is “no.”  Sometimes the answer is “yes” or “wait a while.”  But God always answers our prayers.

Prayer is not just a one-sided conversation.  God not only hears our prayers: He takes the time to listen to them.  Are we listening for God’s answers, though?  I have a hard time listening for God’s answers.  I believe that God listens to my prayers, but sometimes it seems like I’m just talking to myself.

And this is the confidence that we have toward 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 that we have asked of him.

~ 1 John 5:14-15

Can I get an “amen?”

Now think about this for a minute: God listens to our prayers, our sob-stories, but we don’t want to listen to God’s answers.  Pretend for a minute that God is a person you are talking to face-to-face.  Wouldn’t it be considered rude to go on and on about your struggles but not listen when the other person wants to share theirs or comfort you in your distress?  It’s the same thing with God; it’s rude not to listen to God’s response to our prayers.

Prayer is just you talking to God.  You don’t have to be put together to talk to God.  City Harbor says in their song Come However You Are, “Come however you are.  Come with all the heartaches.  Come with all the mistakes you’ve made.  Lay them down at the cross.  Give them to the God who loves you.  Hurt, scarred, fallin’ apart, come however you are.”  That’s how you should be approaching prayer.  We don’t need to pull ourselves together.  We don’t need to come to God perfect.  God wants us to cry out to HIM.  He wants us to ASK, even though He already knows what we need.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

~ Matthew 7:7

Prayer should be continuous.  We should be praying throughout the day.  Prayer should just be us talking to God, having a conversation with God.  The conversation shouldn’t end until we hit the pillow at the end of the day.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You knew this verse was coming, didn’t you?  We are to “pray continually.”  Not “pray when you feel like it” or “pray when you’re in trouble.”  Pray continually.

In conclusion, don’t underestimate the “prayer of a righteous man.”  Believe that God will do what you ask of Him–have faith.  Believe that our prayers are always answered and that prayer is not a one-sided conversation.  When you pray, just talk to God.  “Come however you are.”  And “pray continually.”

Oh, and if you haven’t seen War Room yet, watch it.  Hope this post was a blessing to you all. 🙂

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