When I say prayer, there is an idea that comes into your mind. It may be of a pastor standing in front of a congregation, a moment of silence at a football game, a still quiet place to talk with God, or simply heads down eyes closed. Prayer is a large part of church in general. We pray before the service starts, during singing, at the end of a sermon, and before we leave. In fact, prayer becomes so commonplace that we can forget the true power that is within it.
I like to use analogies and this one was the best that I could relate to, but take a toilet for instance. Now stay with me for a moment, I work with youth. Toilets are great! They keep me from going outside to use the restroom, when I do go, it is quick to leave me sight, and new water fills the bowl ready for me at any time. Now this has to be in the top 10 greatest inventions ever. But how often have you thought to yourself, “I am so thankful for my toilet”? You see, because most of us here have grown up with indoor plumbing, toilets are a natural part of everyday life. Prayer can become a natural part of life as well, not in a good way.
Having the ability to talk to God at any given moment and to know that he hears our prayers and to be talking to the One who controls all things can become commonplace. The ability to talk straight to God has not always been available. In the Old Testament, before Jesus came on the scene, people had to go through priests at the temple. Because we pray so often, or have simply forgot what prayer can truly do; it loses it power inside us. Take for example these 3 stories of how powerful prayer really is.
The first is one story about Elijah, although there are many to choose from. James references the event to end his book and says, “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18) This phenomenon happened because of Elijah’s prayer. Looking at 1 Kings 18:42 we see how open and vulnerable his prayer was to God, “So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” Prayer is powerful. It is powerful enough to request to God the control of the weather.
The second story is found in the New Testament in Acts 16. Here Paul and Silas were walking together and this lady that was demon possessed kept bothering them and Paul had finally had enough. He turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her and it did. As a result of healing the woman, they were thrown in jail. However, they did not let this bother them. Verses 25-26 say, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” I think this was a direct cause of their singing and praying to God. If they were sitting in jail sulking about how wrong they had been treated, I do not believe the earthquake would have come, at least not to the extent of removing chains and doors. Now Paul and Silas did not escape, but they were able to use this opportunity to share with the jailer and the other inmates the Gospel. All of this happened because prayer is powerful. It is powerful enough to remove chains and doors and allow opportunities to share the truth about Jesus Christ with others.
The last story is a little more recent. It happened about 5 years ago. In college one weekend Gail’s mom came to visit. We went up to her hotel room before we left to go eat somewhere. Apparently, before she came to Brownwood, she had cashed her paycheck and had a lot of cash on hand. This cash had now come up missing. We searched the hotel room like crazy, literally turning over mattresses with no success. After about 20-30 minutes of looking we stopped, joined hands, and prayed that God would allow us to find the money. And I kid you not, the very next place we looked, which was where all 3 of us had previously searched, the money lay there…all of it. Now no life changing event occurred, weather was not changed, no one was freed from jail and no ministry opportunity arose out of this, but I wholeheartedly believe that prayer was why we found the money. Prayer is powerful. It is powerful enough to make something that was lost, found, including you and me.
If we look back to the last chapter in James again, right before the example of Elijah, the second part of verse 16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” We do not need to take prayer for granted because it is has been a part of our lives for so long, but remember how much of a privilege it is to be able to talk to the Creator of the universe.
Right now we have a group in Alaska that has been serving the people there for the past 2 days and this will be their last day to be on the beach. Today around their lunchtime, they will have a church service where a few will share testimonies and possibly sing some hymns. This is basically the peak of the weekend. I can tell you from experience that they are beginning to feel the effects of working 15 hour days. Since we have been reminded about how powerful prayer is; I want us to have a time of prayer for our family in Alaska. I have a slide that has some specific prayers that we can pray:
- Cheerful Attitude
- Servant’s Heart
- Relationships to be groomed
- Opportunities for sharing the Gospel
- Immediately results due to their ministry
Also here is a list of all those serving there:
Les, Mandy, Kaylee, Sydney, Charlotte, Scottie, Sara, Seth, Dawn, Shane, Taylor, Kenzie, Chester, Jackie, John, Kim, Daina, Riley, & PJ.
Please lift up either a few or all of them, but be sure to call them out by name. Be as specific in your prayers as you can.