By Ross Gilbert
When doing a quick survey through the Scriptures, you can’t help but notice how often prayer happens.
When Peter was arrested in Acts 12, the church didn’t hire a fancy lawyer or begin a protest march. They gathered together in a home, and they fervently prayed for Peter’s release.
When King David’s son tried to steal the throne from him, David didn’t raise up an army, but instead, Psalm 55:16 tells us, he called upon God. The word “called” used in that verse, literally means “to cry out,” or “to reach out to.”
When a decree was made making it illegal to pray to anyone but the king, with death being the punishment for those who disobeyed, Daniel prayed to God and gave thanks.
Even Jesus, on the night He was arrested and about to be crucified, saw the value of prayer and called out to His Father.
I wish I could tell you that when I’m faced with a problem, my first thought is to pray; to call out to God for wisdom and strength, but the reality is I don’t. Instead, I look to myself and the world around me for answers. I think about how “I” can fix the problem. Can you relate?
Have you ever looked to the world for answers,
replacing prayer to God with “Hey Google…”?
Why don’t we pray more? Why are we not first willing to call out to God? I think it’s because we have some misconceptions around this thing called prayer; lies that we hold to that keep us from doing the most important thing we can do.
Before I stepped into ministry, I was afraid to pray out loud in a group. My words would get messed up and combined into gibberish, so I opted to keep my mouth shut to avoid looking foolish. But that’s missing the point of prayer altogether! Prayer is not meant to be a performance for others; it’s simply talking with our God, whom we can talk to like any other person.
Sometimes, we make the mistake of treating prayer as a magic spell, believing that praying the right words, in the right order, will make them “work.” Do we really believe we can manipulate God into action this way? Prayer works because of God, not us. And, although we may not always get what we want, it always works because God always hears and always does what it is that we need.
In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus says,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
And James tells us in chapter 1:5,
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
God is not holding out; we are just too afraid to ask.
Another deception I have heard from people is they feel they’re not holy or special enough for their prayers to be answered. They proceed to ask me to pray for them, believing that somehow my prayers will carry more weight than theirs, but this is not so. James 5 tells us that Elijah was not a superhero with a special line to God; he was just like you and I. There was no power in his prayer itself, it wasn't because Elijah himself was doing the praying, the power was in the One that Elijah was praying to.
Prayer is simply calling out to, or crying out to God; it’s talking with Him. There is no formula, no right way to do it, no wrong way to do it - just do it! If you are not sure how or what to pray, then start by asking the Holy Spirit, because Romans 8:26-27 tells us that He knows exactly what to pray. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
God simply asks that we turn to Him; we can call out to God to supernaturally intervene in our lives and the lives of those around us, AND also to lead us to be a part of the work He then wants to accomplish.