‘The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.’ (James 5:16 NRSV)
Do you believe things will happen when you pray?
I have to admit that sometimes my prayers have been more wishful thinking than believing, trusting petitions to my Abba with the confidence he will answer.
If you are in that position you are in good company.
There’s a great story told in the book of Acts for people like you and me.
‘While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.’ (Acts 12:5) And guess what? An angel of the Lord tapped Peter on the shoulder to wake him up. His chains fell off his wrists, the angel led him past the armed guards, the iron gate leading into the city opened for them of its own accord, and he was free. What an answer to believing prayer, or was it?
Peter immediately went to those Christians who were praying for his release and knocked at their door, when a maid named Rhoda came to answer.
‘On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!”’ (V.14-15)
Their reaction is quite telling.
They didn’t immediately think, ‘wow, what a fantastic answer to our fervent prayers.’ Oh no! They thought the maid was out of her mind for telling them that God had actually answered their prayers.
Were their prayers, however fervent, little more than wishful thinking? Maybe!
But God answered them anyway, and in a very powerful way.
I came across a humorous story where an unsavoury bar had opened up right next to a church. This concerned the church members so much that they prayed and prayed for weeks that the bar would be closed down. When eventually the local council closed the bar its owner took the church leaders to court claiming that they had got the bar closed down.
The church denied any responsibility.
Musing on the situation the judge said, ‘it’s difficult to decide this case since we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and an entire church that doesn’t.’
Do we believe in the power of prayer?
Actually it’s not how fervent we are, or how good we are at praying that’s important. It is knowing that we have a great and fervent God, our loving Abba, who just loves to answer our prayers.
Billy Graham once said,
‘Heaven is full of answered prayers that no-one has bothered to asked.’
Let’s ask those prayers believing that our
‘Father in heaven [will] give good things to those who ask him!’ (Matthew 7:11).
Our prayers can be powerful and effective because we have a powerful and effective God; so why not ask Him?
Father, those who know your name place their trust in you, for you O Lord will not forsake those who seek you.
Have a good week praying to God.