Prayer

prayer-401401_640 (1)Lamentation 5:21: Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old— (ESV)

The above is a cry for change. The reality is not beautiful, it is frustrating and damning. The writer cries for help because things have really gotten out of hand have really. The people needed divine intervention, hence the prayer of restoration.

They knew they can do better than that. But rather than sit down in the ashes of regret and sadness, hopelessness, this man decided to take the path of prayer. If it is not prayer, then it is nothing. Prayer is so central to the interaction between God and man that early in the bible, we read that man began to call upon God. There is no activity through which we connect to God, initiated by us, like prayer. If you are not apt at praying then you are really disadvantaged, conversely if you know how to pray, whatever disadvantage you have is cancelled out.

Jesus said that men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). There is no practise that Jesus spoke of like that, something that he recommends we spend our time in. When prayer is your priority then, your priority is right.

In the book of Acts, there was a time the apostles seemed to lose their priority (Acts 6:1-5). When the issue of the distribution of food was almost distracting them, Peter said that we need to give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. To give yourself to something is to make it a big deal, to make it number one.

In the parable that Jesus gave to illustrate the importance of prayer, he spoke of a widow who in that time represents the weakest, most vulnerable, disadvantaged group of people in the society (Luke 18:1-8).

The widow cancelled out that disadvantage. This was what she did: not only did she have access to the judge, but she made use of the access, being a picture of prayer as we use the access we have to God, as we pray, and the impossible becomes possible, our disadvantages disappear, as we link our hands to God’s endless ability. You have time on your hands, why not make it count for prayer?

The widow was demanding for restoration, asking that what is rightly hers to come to her. And Jesus used that to show how prayer is important, how prayer is might. The woman used the might of the judge to serve her purpose.

For that woman there was no help coming from anywhere, she cannot even help herself, she needed help. Prayer is therefore is the way we get help. But we will not seek for help if we do not feel like that widow felt, helpless without God’s help, in need of restoration that only God can bring. Prayer is the means to get God’s “attention”, to give God the legal right to intervene in your situation and get things done, because God gave the authority over the earth to man (Genesis 1:26-28), it was lost to the devil (Luke 4:5-8) but now recovered in Jesus (Matthew 28:18), activated through the use of his name in prayer (Philippians 2:5-11).

But we will not take prayer as important if we say: God knows all things anyway and what will be will be. Prayer is the means that was created for human-divinity cooperation with Jesus saying that we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer makes what is possible a reality, what is dreamed of to be lived out. Jesus said whatever thing we desire when we pray we should believe that we have received it and we shall have it indeed (Mark 11:22-24). That means prayer is the means to bring our desire to reality.

Another widow Anna was involved in decades of prayer and fasting before the birth of Jesus who is the epitome of restoration (Luke 2:36-38). She held Jesus as a baby in her hands as an old woman and said that Jesus is for the restoration of Israel, regaining what the nation has lost. That speaks of redemption and freedom for the nation, the realisation of Israel’s calling to be all she was meant to be in God.

That restoration will find the full expression in the church which is called spiritual Israel (Romans 2:28-29), whose history was marked in prayer.

Before the major coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts to kick start the church, there was prayer made by about 120 disciples of Jesus, some of whom he had taught the importance of prayer (Acts 1:14).

And after the apostles were threatened to shut up, the church prayed and the people were again filled with the Holy Spirit, and the power level increased and miracles were multiplied. So instead of being cowed, the church busted forth (Acts 4:31).

Also before the church expanded through Paul and Barnabas going on a gentile mission, the leaders of the church in Antioch were in ardent prayer (Acts 13:1-5). The most unusual things happen in prayer. Such power is wielded in prayer that Jesus says that we can even pray that whatever God wants to get done, and Jeremiah says that the thoughts of God towards us are for good and not evil to bring us to an expected end. In prayer we bring the divine thoughts into reality.

It takes faith to pray, with the writer of the book of Hebrews saying that those who come to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus said that when we pray in secret, we will be rewarded openly.

Also in the life of Elijah we see the power of prayer. James, writing about him, said that he prayed earnestly that it should not rain and it did not rain in Israel for a period of over three years (James 5: 16-18). At the end, he led the people back to God.

James said the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous makes tremendous power available. Therefore the praying man is the powerful man, because he commands the resources of heaven, and therefore controls what happens in earth because we know that what appears has unseen origin (Hebrews 11:3). Those who pray gets to activate the presence of God and in that place anything can happen and many things have happened.

Jesus impressed on his disciple the importance of prayer, telling them it helped to overcome temptation (Mark 14:38), it held in dominating over demons, releasing the presence of God (Matthew 17:21).

When Paul and Silas were imprisoned. They did not resort to complaining, counting their losses, thinking that God has forsaken them with everything they had done for his kingdom. Though in prison their mouth were not imprisoned and they raised their voice to sing and pray to God and there was an earthquake which resulted to their chains falling off and the gates of the prison opening up (Acts 16:25-28).

When Peter was in prison and was scheduled to be killed, just as James was killed, the church used its prayer power and an angel was sent and Peter was supernaturally delivered from that quagmire (Acts 12:1-18).

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