I asked the question of my church; “Does prayer really change things?” and, the answer of course, is a resounding “Yes”… We have experienced the changes that prayer can bring into a person’s life, I have experienced the results – positive and negative of prayer – and how it has changed me and my life circumstances.
While it is true that change is the result of prayer, the real purpose of prayer is to bring us into a closer relationship with Almighty God. Prayer would be – and is – a wonderful privilege even if nothing changed. We take our relationship with God in the wrong direction if it depends on whether or not He does what we ask of Him. In fact, and in reality, our relationship with God is based on whether or not we do what He asks of us!
The first thing we need to know is that our prayers should always be positive. We ought to always find something positive to say about the person or the circumstance for which we are praying. And, we should always remember that God is at work in every person’s life in one way or another, and we don’t know what God might be doing in their lives. As I said last time, we can easily destroy the work of God in a person’s life with a simple negative word or attitude. That’s why we must take to heart scriptures like “Let your speech be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so you may know how to answer everyone”. (Colossians 4:1) Or, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs”. (Ephesians 4:29) We should always be positive, especially in our prayers.
Second, our prayers ought to be personal. When interceding for others, we can reflect on how they affect us personally; When praying for the Philippian church, Paul said; “I have you in my heart…and I long to see you” This was a personal prayer. It reflected his attitude concerning this church. Our prayers can do the same. We may reveal attitudes of love, concern, sympathy, even anger, guilt, or joy…It is good to reflect our personal feelings toward someone or something…They may bring us joy or make us mad. The circumstance may also bring us joy or make us angry. We need to be honest with God. And, by the way, if you don’t know the person or are not personally involved; perhaps you should be! Sometimes just a phone call to let them know you are praying and why…and you wonder if there is anything in particular you should be praying for…will change a life.
That brings us to the third thing, which is to make it a purposeful prayer. Remember my example of my early attempts at prayer?…You know; “Bless Mary, bless Joe, bless Oscar…” It was prayer, and you could say it was even “positive” prayer… But, it certainly wasn’t personal or purposeful. The point is, if we don’t know what we ought to pray, maybe it’s an opportunity to find out what to pray for. Going back to Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church, he says; “I pray that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”… “so you may be able to discern what is best…and be filled with the fruit of righteous-ness.”… I would like someone to pray that for me, wouldn’t you? Do you see the purposefulness in that prayer? For the purpose of our journey, try to use these 3 things in your prayers…Positive, Personal and Purposeful, and if you don’t know what to pray for in any of the five areas of blessing, then it’s a good opportunity to find out! Is it Love? Joy? Peace? Forgiveness? Or Need? (Financial or Material)