Have you ever wondered why we are called to pray when we want circumstances in life to change? Do we pray simply because that is what the Bible tells us to do? Or, do our words actually have power? On one side it seems prideful to say that we have any power in ourselves to change anything. Are we not merely human? Besides, if God is all powerful and all knowing, then doesn’t He already know what is going to happen? Who are we to change the will of God? Does He needour prayer to make things happen?
On the other hand, we are called children of God and the Holy Spirit resides in us. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is alive in us. All throughout scripture there are instructions and demonstrations on petitioning prayer. For example in James 5:13-15 and Matthew 7:7-8 there are instructions which seem to indicate the act of our prayer has the power to change circumstances.
When we go to both extremes of thinking regarding the power of prayer we can see error. Prayer is not simply a ritualistic thing to do because that is what we are told to do. On the other hand, there is no magic formula or recipe to get our three genie wishes. As in many areas of the Christian walk, I believe we need to forge our way down the radical middle.
As I look at this issue in scripture, I see two essential components which create powerful prayer. Prayer that actually changes circumstances in life. These components are:
- God’s will
- Our faith
The overarching truth in life is that God is in control. Nothing happens apart from His knowledge and will. We always must keep this humility as we approach prayer. The ironic thing is that a proper understanding of this humility is what gives us boldness in prayer. When we pray in unity with what the Lord’s will is, we are able to stand and boldly request it. We are able to pray from the solid foundation of His will. Jesus instructed us to pray this way as is described in the famous Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
The million dollar question then becomes, “What is the Lord’s will on earth as it is in Heaven?” That is a discussion for another day, but I would encourage you to discover this as you read the Bible.
If it were only up to the Lord’s will, then there would be no need for the prayer of petition to make circumstances change on earth. Jesus would not instruct us to pray for God’s kingdom to come and will to be done if our contribution were not important. The amazing nature of God is that He has given us a portion of authority in life. This has been evident since the beginning. He gave Adam and Eve a choice to choose His commandments or to reject them. Today He still gives us the authority to choose Him or to reject Him. Not only do we have authority given by the Lord, but He is expecting us to do something with it. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 displays this expectation the Lord has with what He has given us. What does this have to do with prayer? In the Lord’s unsurpassed knowledge He has given us a role to play in the invasion of the Lord’s kingdom on earth. What is our part? Faith. We see this all throughout Jesus’ interaction with people during his time on earth. Here are a few:
- And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)
- And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” (Mark 5:34)
- Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” (Luke 7:9)
- In addition James 5:13 says, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.”
It amazes me that time and time again Jesus points out the person’s faith as the component which unlocked the power of God to move. We get to become co-laborers with Christ in ushering God’s kingdom and will on earth. So while there is no formula to have power in prayer, it is apparent to me from scripture that praying the Lord’s will with faith in His goodness and might is what opens the channel through which God’s will is released in our lives.
So what about you? Have you sought the Lord’s will for that circumstance in your life? Has the Spirit revealed it to you? Then it is time to call up your faith and boldly come to the throne to petition the Lord’s will be done on earth.