Saturday, 11 June 2022

Prayer works!

Sometimes we do not realise the power we have in being able to come before the Lord with our thanks and praise, our fears and problems, our needs and petitions
The Queen’s Jubilee, this week, has touched my heart in many different ways. Our whole cul de sac was decorated with bunting and we had a wonderful street party, which created a lovely community atmosphere. But what touched me the most were the many comments, by various people on TV, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, about the Queen’s continual faith in God and how important it was to her. In Songs of Praise, we heard how our Queen, when she was anointed with oil at the coronation, took this moment very seriously indeed and believed she had been anointed by God to serve this country throughout her life. 

When my husband and I were talking about these things and saying how faithful she had been all these years, we said that our national anthem is a prayer that the whole nation sings. ‘God save the queen’ ‘Long to reign over us’ and many other lines from the other verses. The whole anthem is a prayer for our sovereign. In this 70th year of her reign, we can have no doubt that this prayer of the nation has been answered.

Then in our devotion today Charles Spurgeon used Psalm 6 verse 9 which says: The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. Mr Spurgeon tells how his prayers have been answered and he ends his devotion with, ‘We receive Jesus and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His son’s sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks our prayers so that they pass even within the golden gates.’

After these things I thought it appropriate to talk about praying and answered prayer in my blog today. It is a subject that I myself very much need to focus on. I often have struggles in my prayer life, not least, praying out loud in public.

When I was a child, we did not have a lot of money but I can honestly say all our needs were provided for. I never really realised how my parents struggled because we always had enough of everything we needed. It was only later that I realised that it was the prayers of my family that had sustained us, especially my mother who knelt by her bed every night. 

There are many times over the years that I have looked back and wondered how on earth I got through a certain situation. I know I could not have done it in my own strength. Every time it was the Lord and the prayers of friends and family.

Prayer works!! Sometimes we do not realise the power we have in being able to come before the Lord with our thanks and praise, our fears and problems, our needs and petitions. There are no formulas to the way we should pray. In Isaiah chapter 29, God becomes frustrated with his people’s prayers. In verse 13 it says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. God is looking for sincere hearts. So, we don’t have to worry unnecessarily about the right or wrong way to pray. There are no formulas. God isn’t testing our performance; he simply wants us to connect with Him anytime and anywhere.

Prayer is about relationships, not religious rituals. Since prayer is a relationship with God, it has to be a two-way process. We need to listen to him too. As someone put it, the Lord says, ‘Ok stop talking now and let me get a word in!’.

Sometimes our prayers don’t get answered the way we are hoping for. Sometimes we have the wrong motives and God’s answer has to be ‘No!’ In James 4:2-3 it says: You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. We can’t expect God to give us something that will turn out badly for us. He knows best.

Sometimes our prayers do have the right motives but we do not get the outcome we would like. But we have to trust the Lord that he has the bigger picture. We have to keep in mind that God works from a higher perspective than we do. What God knows is best for us doesn’t always align with we want or expect. Sometimes we have to go through struggles. So, when God’s responses to our prayers don’t reflect what we want, we have to challenge ourselves to trust God, we have to remind ourselves that God sees every situation in our lives from the perspective of the highest good. Our human perspective is so limited but God answers our prayers according to what is truly the best for us. Even when God’s answers to our prayers aren’t what we expect, prayer still works.

I read in a sermon that God is the surgeon. If we were left to perform an operation on ourselves, we would try not to hurt ourselves, we would not cut deep enough for fear of the pain and then the outcome would be, that the operation would be unsuccessful. But when God does the surgery, he cuts as deeply as is necessary to obtain success and thereby total healing occurs after the wound is healed. I like the way The Message Bible paraphrases this verse from Proverbs 3:5–6: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one that will keep you on track.” If we put our trust in God and we are confident He is who He says He is, then we can pray with faith and we can know that our prayers not only work, but that God is working for our good, even when sometimes the answers look different from what we thought they would be. We have to learn to trust that when we pray, God hears and He knows what is best for us.

Ephesians 3:20-21 says: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

So, we can pray with confidence and from the heart in whatever ways work best for us. We can express any thoughts and feelings to God honestly, and listen carefully for whatever messages God wants to give us. We don’t need to worry about making mistakes in prayer or about not having the words to say. We can trust the Holy Spirit to help us. Romans 8:26 promises that: the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

I thought I would end my reflection on prayer with a few quotes from some well-known Christians:

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” – Martin Luther

“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon

“To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.” – Billy Graham 

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tyre?” – Corrie Ten Boom

 “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” – John Bunyan

“All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t pray, they don’t happen.” – Dan Hayes

So, in Ephesians 4:6 it tells us: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Let’s do it! Prayer works!

Author: Thelma Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

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