While growing up, I recall occasionally seeing the phrase, “Prayer changes things,” in the homes of fellow Christians. I also remember hearing quite regularly from seasoned believers that, “God answers prayer.”
I wondered at times if prayer did really work. We’ve all prayed and seen people pray with no apparent results, and we’ve doubted or questioned whether it really mattered if we prayed or not. Let me share with you how I have grown in my prayer life and in my belief in God who hears and answers our prayers.
When I was in High School, I lived in a Christian foster home in Kenya where we believed that God supplies all our needs, including putting food on our table. Though I never doubted God’s power to provide, I thought that perhaps God provided only in response to the faith of our parents. I had another interesting thought lingering at the back of my mind which I never shared with anyone. It was this: “Maybe Mum & Dad have some well- to- do friends who provide for our needs.” In response to a prayer, the Lord allowed something to happen in order to teach me that all our needs are met by Him.
Around that time, my foster parents had to be away from home for almost two months. It was during this time that I asked the Lord to prove to me that He really provided for us at the home. It wasn’t long after saying my prayer that my trust in the Lord solidified, and I started to have an unwavering faith in His hand to meet all our needs. I became convinced that God does indeed answer prayer through this experience seeing Him provide steaming-hot, ready-made food for us for lunch one day while I was living in the foster home. Let me recount my unforgettable day:
It was regular school day. Nick, who was holding the fort for Mum & Dad, told us that there was no money in the bank to buy food and that we should pray for the provision of our lunch. The situation was really desperate in that we did not even have bread to eat with our tea that morning.
After breakfast we left for school. After five hours, we came home for lunch. The cook still had nothing to cook, but by faith he had laid the table in anticipation of God’s miracle. We prayed and were ready to simply have a glass of water before walking the 25 minutes back to school when suddenly, we heard a Mercedes beep in our drive way. The man, who was of Asian origin, motioned us to come and get some food. The food was already made, and we could tell it was still hot by the steam rising up from the booth (trunk) of his sleek car. He had brought us lots of rice, stew, and other East Indian goodies, which we truly enjoyed. We all thanked God for answering our prayer in such a generous and specific way!
We continued to receive God’s wonderful provisions until our parents returned. And in the ensuing days, months, and years after they got home, our family never ceased to see the Lord provide for us in both small and big ways. I still praise the Lord some twenty years later that He used that instance in my youth to build my faith in the power of prayer.
Through my practice of prayer discipline over these years, I can say with certainty that “prayer does change things.” The Lord either alleviates the unpleasant circumstances and uncertain situations in our lives, or He grants us His grace to deal with them.
I can also say that “prayer changes people.” Prayer changed my unbelief in the power of prayer into an unflinching belief in its power! I now have faith in God (cf. Mark 11:22), and know that He hears and answers the prayers of His children. Of course, it may not always be in the way that we want Him to answer, but it is in accordance with His plan and purposes for and through our lives.
I believe in praying for both small things as well as for the biggest thing we can ask Him: for the salvation of loved ones and friends. The Bible tells us that there’s joy in heaven over the salvation of even one soul (cf. Luke 15:10)! This may often be the result of prayer from one’s friends, relatives, and neighbors. How many of you are or know someone who attributes their salvation to the power of a praying mother, friend, etc.?
In my prayer life, I often start by asking God to change my heart. I like to come into my prayer times showing Him that my heart’s desire is to be ever true to His Word and to seek His face always (cf. 1 Chronicles 16:11). I don’t want to ever depend on my own strength, but rather on His strength, which never fails.
Fifteen days ago, during a party to celebrate receiving my religious worker’s visa, a friend gave me a beautiful card with a verse on the power of prayer. The card contains the words by Danny Hahlbohm, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in the late 60’s and early 70’s. At the end of his tour of duty, he received a miracle from God and became a devoted Christian. After returning to the United States following being honorably discharged from the Army, he decided to use his artistic talents to honor God and to spread His Word.
Few people recognize Danny Hahlbohm’s name but many remember his painting, “Footprints in the Sand”, which was inspired by Mary Stevenson’s 1939 poem. Here are the words within the card titled “THE POWER OF PRAYER”. They are inspirational:
THE GREATEST POWER GOD GIVES TO US
IS THE POWER THAT’S FOUND IN PRAYER:
WHEN WE SHARE WITH HIM OUR HURTS AND FEARS
WITH FAITH THAT HE IS THERE.
WE CANNOT RULE OUR LIVES OURSELVES,
OR EVEN FIND A WAY, BUT HE GIVES US POWER TO FIND HIS HELP
EACH TIME WE KNEEL TO PRAY.
I thank God for the power of prayer and for the exhortation we find in His Word to pray. Jesus assures us saying, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matthew 18:20, according to THE MESSAGE by Eugene H. Peterson).
In Part II of this series, I will be sharing about the power of prayer in relation to sickness and suffering. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.