The Power of Prayer
Thanks to Meghan Scholtens for guest posting here today on her personal experience with prayer.
We are all accustomed to prayer, whether that be at church on Sunday mornings, beside our beds before we go to sleep at night, or even at a football game before the kick-off. Whatever the circumstance, we all know what prayer is. We know the gist of why we do it and, most of us, know how to pray. But many people, myself included, sometimes ask the questions, “Does God hear me?” or “What difference is this going to make?” But I am here to tell you that prayer is something powerful.
I have grown up being a very independent person. I have never been one to want to ask for help when a task needs to be done. I usually just figure it out and do it. So, as you can assume, asking in prayer and having faith that God will take care of a situation or fix a problem, well, it is very hard for me, yet I have still experienced the power of God through prayer. I went on my first overseas mission trip to Kenya in Africa this last summer. There were six of us that went on this trip together, but, for a day a week for about four months prior to the trip, we met and prayed. We prayed for the people that we would meet and for the people who flew our planes. We prayed for the people who prayed for us and thanked God for them every single day. We prayed for lives to be changed through us and for our own lives to be changed. We prayed for safety and for comfort in that foreign land, and every single prayer we prayed was fulfilled. There are so many instances where we could have been hurt or where something terrible could have happened, but it never did. We saw the hand of God in every single moment during that trip and even before, during the preparation time.
a Prayer Template
Although we see positive results when we ASK in prayer, asking is not the only reason we should pray. We pray for different reasons: to ask, to thank, to tell, to listen. But if you do not know how to pray, how do you? Or if you do know how but are at a loss for words, what do you say? Well, God has equipped us with a template, for lack of a better word. This prayer “template” is found in Matthew 6:9-13.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
I bet, for many of you, as you began to read it, you said it in your mind without actually reading it. You may have changed a few words, but this prayer has become so accustomed to us that we have forgotten the true meaning behind it.
In one of my classes at college this semester, we read a book entitled Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World. It is written by a pastor by the name of Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi and in the book he discusses this prayer and explains its meaning far better than I ever could:
Your kingdom come.
Earlier, I had grown very tired of the Lord’s Prayer. Having been raised in a church that said it week after week, it just felt like meaningless ritual. After all, I thought, isn’t it better to just pray what I feel, to pray what spontaneously wells up within my heart and mind? Rote prayers smacked of institutionalism and deadness to me.
But now it makes so much sense to me why in Jesus’ model prayer for us we are instructed to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [ . . . ] [W]e are praying for God’s power and reign to invade the present. And we are also praying for the kingdom to come in all its fullness one day. The entire prayer, in fact, is an expression of the pray-er’s desire to live life according to the kingdom of God. We petition our King for daily provision (“Give us this day our daily bread”), we ask for the forgiveness of God’s reign as we seek to live that forgiveness out with others (“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”), we ask for the King’s leading to keep us from sin and evil (“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one”) and we acknowledge God’s eternal reign (“For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever”).
No Excuses for No Prayer
I just find that excerpt so wonderful! He says it exactly right. We should never again have the excuse, “I don’t know how to pray.” Here is a perfect prayer that you can follow. And not only follow it, but use it as a fire starter; use it to spark your prayer imagination and veer off into its depths next time you are kneeling beside your bed.
Pray with boldness and faith.
I also would like to say, don’t be careful with what you pray for. I’m sure you have heard, “Be careful what you wish for.” Well, don’t be careful when you pray. Pray with boldness and faith. If there is something on your heart, let God have it. He can handle it. If you are scared to ask for strength because you think you are a weak person, don’t be. If you think you’re strong and find you are weak, don’t be scared to lean on God. He can handle it. Prayer is like God’s portal into your heart, and your portal into his arms. God did not create us so that he could watch us struggle and only kind of get through life; he created us so that we could excel and succeed in life with his help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!
And to finish up, here is a prayer that is “not careful”:
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
― St. Francis of Assisi
Meghan Scholtens is 18 and a freshman at John Brown University. She is majoring in Intercultural Studies, with a minor in General Science and an emphasis in Community Development. She plans on attending nursing school after JBU and then entering the mission field through a medical avenue. Her heart is for kids and East Africa. She plans on spending the majority of her career there. You can follow Meghan at meghanscholtens.blogspot.com
About Jennifer O. White
I'm a simple wife who has discovered God's amazing gift of prayer. Here at Prayerfully Speaking I share my journey of unwrapping this gift. God invites us to ask Him, but His enemy works diligently to keep that from happening. I hope to offer you encouragement to believe God is ready to pour more into your life than you've ever imaged.