Friday, January 4, 2008

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is such a difficult subject to write, comment or teach on. There have been times in my life when I went through a season of very disciplined and regular prayer, born of an intense desire to commune with my God over matters needing his direction or intervention. I've read several books on prayer, heard their formulas and tried their systems. Ultimately, it always came down to the cries of my heart to the God that carried my life in his hands. I've seen God act in response to prayer in ways that clearly represented his attentive answer. I've also seen God change me in ways that came through the prayerful times of agony, joy, thankfulness or desperation.

It's the discipline of regular prayer that has been the most illusive. The power of prayer to connect me with the heart of God is never in question. If anything, you'd think that I'd been more consistent considering how I've seen prayer work in my life. Perhaps it is that the power of prayer is such that its consistent practice cannot be tolerated by all that is against my having a healthy prayer life. It may very well be that the world, the Devil and my own depraved flesh are so opposed to a healthy prayer life that they will act in concert to suppress it. That would seem to attest to prayer's power also though. Is the potency of prayer to me gaged by its opposition?

My experience in prayer, as well as the diverse scriptural examples given about great biblical characters, renders most formulaic approaches to prayer insulting. And the next person who suggests to me that some unpreferable circumstance in my life is a result of deviating from a secret formula of prayer may suffer violence at my hands. For the most part, I've seen in Scripture aspects of prayer that are very beneficial to remember when I approach God intimately, such as remembering his gracious acts, praising his goodness and asking for ability to serve him. Confession of my failures (also called "sin") is a must as well. But these are all parts of deep communication between God and me. The power of prayer is such that I can tell when I've been remiss in being alone with God very much, and I can also tell when I have enjoyed regular communion with him. Imagine what power is possible in a community of believers communing in prayer together. That's got to be off the charts!

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