Friday, May 23, 2014

Prayer Changes Things

Prayer changes things.  I'm not a huge fan of internet memes, but I've seen that phrase bandied about with varying pictures, and I like it.  We have abundant evidence in the Bible that it's true, from the prayers of Abraham all the way to the prayers of the apostles.  In Acts, we see Peter pray two times, and both times big changes happen.

Peter's prayer changed circumstances in the lives of other people.  In Acts 9, some Christians in Joppa begged the apostle to come quickly because a special woman had died.  Dorcas made garments for all the widows in town, and they all were eager to show the tunics to Peter and praise this woman.  Peter politely told them all to leave the room, got down on his knees and prayed.  We don't know what he said, but after his prayer, God used Peter to raise Dorcas up from the dead.

While we aren't given the power to raise the dead like Peter was, I've seen prayer do some amazing things in the lives of the people I love.  A woman who was given a 1-2% chance of surviving a serious case of pneumonia is back home with her husband and infant son.  Stubborn old men who had never set foot in a church building have been baptized into Christ. Empty sonograms have turned into healthy babies.  Wombs have opened, cancers have disappeared, broken marriages have healed stronger than before.  Prayer changes things.

Praying can also lead to a change in our own hearts.  When Peter went on the rooftop to pray in Acts 10, there is no indication he was doing anything other than his normal daily prayers. (Remember that prayer was a huge part of the apostles' job Acts 6:4).  Suddenly, what started as a hunger pang ended up turning into a vision wherein God showed Peter that his prejudice against the Gentiles would no longer be acceptable.  God wrought a change in his heart after he prayed.

I wonder if Peter's prayers for himself sounded anything like Paul's prayer for the Ephesians.  Paul prayed for a change in their hearts.

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:15-19).

When I am in the habit of praying, God does give me more wisdom and knowledge of him and enlightened eyes.  He shows me the changes I need to make and helped me make them.  Like Peter needed to accept the Gentiles, I've needed to tame my tongue.  And prayer  works!   I'm not saying I never say an ill word (even Peter slipped back into his old habits, Galatians 2), but God has molded me in ways I never would have expected.  On the other hand, when prayer is absent from my life, Scripture seems more dead and I don't hear the messages God has for me.

Have you ever felt like your prayers were so much wasted breath?  I have.  I've wondered how prayer can change things if God already has a plan in place.  I don't know all the answers, but I do know that the Internet Meme is right.  Prayer changes things, both in my own heart and in the lives of people around me.  Time to step it up.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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