The Lord appeared to King Solomon after he had finished building the temple and the royal palace. On the day of the dedication of the temple King Solomon prayed in public submitting to the Lord a specific request (2 Chronicles 6:26-27):
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
King Solomon’s request was granted. God assured him that He will heal the land when people turn from their inhumane and self-centered ways, humble themselves and pray.
Heal our land – We know how it feels when our bodies are under attack. Sickness and disease is our mortal enemy. Many prayers go out addressing the issue of healing our bodies. However, the Lord who has the power to heal our bodies also has the power to heal our land.
There is no wrong time for prayer. The right time to pray is right now. There is a communication flow going on between Heaven and Earth, and we are in that flow when we pray. The communication flow goes both ways: God speaks to us, and we listen; we speak to God, and He listens. While it is certainly normal to vent to Him and spill all our beans, prayer remains a two-way-conversation. God wants to impress His wisdom and encouragement. We need an open heart and mind to receive His input.
Dishonesty represents a major obstacle to our communication flow with God. We can lie to our neighbor, we can lie to ourselves, but lying to God does not work. Actually, lying never works – and hiding from God does not work either. Adam and Eve were the first to try, without success. And why would we want to hide? There is absolutely no question about God’s merciful attitude. His patience is legendary.
God forgives and forgets. He gives us a fighting chance – we just need to be honest with Him. He will right our wrongs, and He will heal our land.
At set times Jesus went into the wilderness to pray. His regular practice of personal prayer manifested itself through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit wherever He went.
Jesus knew busyness. According to the gospel writers, Jesus was the man of the hour. He was wanted everywhere. In His generation, people were looking for leadership that would free them from the political super power of their time – the Roman Empire. Some had Jesus on their agenda to manipulate Him (which never worked). Others sought Him out to receive healing. Wherever Jesus and His disciples went, a crowd gathered quickly. People were fascinated with His message of the kingdom of God. He spoke with authority. And from dusk to dawn, there were people – people – people.
Who has not become tired and frustrated at times with people constantly knocking on our doors? We keep up the good work until one morning we wake up and have nothing left to give. In sport terms, we have been tossed a Red Flag and need to review a challenge.
God gave us freedom of choice for a reason. He empowered us to say “yes” and “no.” Jesus remarked in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:37):
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Life happens without our permission. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we simply have too much on our plate. If this happens to be the case then it is probably time to exercise some portion control. We need to determine what belongs on our plate. On a personal note, my husband and I have developed the habit to pray before saying yes to any new commitment.
Never underestimate the power of prayer. Our alone-time with God is a sacred time when everything else stops and the noise of the day subsides. We can clear our heads to listen to the voice of the Lord. Jesus once said, “My sheep know my voice”, and this is what our private audience with God is all about. It takes time to sort through all the voices in our heads. In order to receive the Lord’s input we sometimes have to wait things out. Our hearts are wired with sensors and we will know when the Lord has spoken to us.
Alone-time with God is time well-spent – and it pays in dividends of wisdom and joy.
the world, and prayer also changes us. That’s the power of prayer in a
We have an advocate in heaven who prays for us night and day. His name is
Jesus. His prayers move mountains and work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit
who is spread out all over the world. The Holy Spirit is on the move globally
and challenges us to pray. Our prayers are like a breath of fresh air sweeping
across our countries. We’d be suffocating without prayers, I’m sure.
Paul urges Timothy in his letter to pray specifically for kings and
authorities. Men and women in authority need a lot of prayer because they
affect a lot of people. I think it’s hard to pray for authorities because most
of us aren’t related to them. We all probably find it easier to pray for people
we know, or at least for people we empathize with. A powerful person quickly
becomes an abstract for us. We see the person primarily in their functions, and
that’s what they become in our minds – the CEO of a company, the police
officer, the king of England, the president of the United States – but this
abstract person really only exists on paper. That’s like painting a picture and
claiming the painting is reality. Paintings are just two-dimensional. Reality
on the other hand contains a third dimension, depth. To pray effectively, we
need to take this extra step in our hearts and minds, go past a person’s title
and status and see a vulnerable human being.
God knows everybody from the inside out. He can help us relate to a person
better. And wouldn’t you know it? All of a sudden we pray with empathy. That’s
how prayer changes us.
Prayer changes the world because God listens to prayer, especially selfless prayer. An active prayer life looks as different as our respective DNA codes. I am writing this as a precaution, because some of us are haunted by certain stereotypes triggered by such words as “prayer warrior” or “prayer closet”. Nobody prays the same, and we shouldn’t. That’s as if all love affairs were the same, and they aren’t. Prayer first and foremost is our communication with God. How that looks like depends largely on our personality. So don’t try to be a copycat mimicking what we think a prayer warrior would do. Be yourself. Just don’t give up on God or people. That’s what prayer is all about.
A prayer is just a beginning. We pray for certain things and hope for specific outcomes while God answers our prayers in unexpected ways. Life stories recorded in the Bible speak about answered prayer, as in Jacob’s case. Jacob’s parents Isaac and Rebekkah had been childless for the longest time and so they prayed to the Lord (Genesis 25:21):
“Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant (with twins no less).”
Rebekah’s twins were named Jacob and Esau. Sibling rivalry led to Jacob’s departure from home when he was still very young. Without the protection of his father’s tribe he felt extremely vulnerable. So Jacob fell to his knees and submitted this request to the only One who could help him now (Genesis 28:20-22):
“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Jacob’s prayer consisted of three emergency items:
Food to eat
Clothes to wear
God granted his request, and then some; in fact He went above and beyond Jacob’s humble request and blessed him with:
Food to eat
Clothes to wear
Livestock, which in modern terms could mean a thriving business
Jacob left home with just the clothes on his back and not a penny to his name and came back a Patriarch of a new tribe, a tribe God created to bring hope into the world. Ultimately, God’s Son Jesus would come from Jacob’s tribe. And Jesus is the ultimate answer to all prayers spoken for the sake of freedom and redemption.
Who could have come up with an idea such as this: God slipping into the role of a human being to free us? These are God-sized answers to human-sized prayers.