Make A Difference - Pray!

Some days it seems that life is filled with frustration, angst, anxiety, trouble, sorrow, fear and other unpopular emotions.  We can encounter these emotions everyday, whether it is in the workplace, our homes or our social settings.  Sometimes we even stumble upon these feelings when we are alone.  The evening news programs or the daily newspaper can drag these emotions right into where we live.  Very seldom are we treated to good news; the reason is that bad news or sensationalism sells newspapers.  Good news typically does not.

If we take the time to look around us, we see all kinds of problems in the world.  There is war in the Middle East, nuclear proliferation around the world, famine in Africa, the bird flu literally flying from nation to nation, rising gas prices at the pump, strained international relations throughout the globe, bombings and continued terrorist threats, and unrest in Israel along with many other issues.  It is no wonder that the use of anti-depression medication is on the rise. 

If we sit down and think about it, despair can creep in.  We experience a feeling of helplessness brought on by our apparent inability to do anything to stem the tide of trials, tribulations and evil in the world.  We think that any efforts that we might make would be ineffectual in the great scheme of things simply because we are really powerless to bring about needed change.  Is that really true?

5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:5-7(KJV)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the topic of “prayer” seems to be a major topic of discussion in the Bible, especially with Jesus.  There are sixty-eight instances in the New Testament where the word “pray” is used and there are thirty-one instances in which the word “prayer” is used. 

As indicated hereinabove, there are not just certain issues that are appropriate for prayer.  Rather, we should take everything to God in prayer.  Every possible request should be “made known” to God.  To be honest, He already knows it but the idea is that we are to take these requests to God, in faith, for a specific purpose.  That purpose behind this idea of taking everything to Him in prayer is to gain the peace of God.  The peace of God is the sense of contentment knowing that all things are in His hands and as our Father, He has our best interest at heart. 

Many seem to skip over one specific provision in this verse, that being “with thanksgiving.”  We are to take all of our requests, no matter how small or how large, to God but we need to do it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  That attitude of thanksgiving flows from the knowledge that He loves us and He is in control.  This is not a “Polly Anna” attitude where you are unrealistically optimistic about the realities of life.  This is an attitude that allows you to reside or rest in the knowledge that God the Father holds you in the palm of His hand and He will comfort and keep you secure throughout life’s trials and tribulations. 

That doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out the way you think it should; it means that everything will work out according to God’s will and His purpose.  There is an immutable truth that is the foundation for the preceding statement:  God is much more concerned about your spiritual condition than He is your physical condition.  The reason is that your physical condition is temporal while your spiritual condition is eternal.  Does this mean that God is unconcerned about your physical well-being?  No; it simply means that in the great scheme of things and when it comes to what is really important, the eternal outweighs the temporal and God’s divine purposes take precedence over man’s ambitions. 

That having been said, I am afraid that we have forgotten the power of and the need for prayer today.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Creator of all, didn’t just suggest that we should pray; He commanded it.  In fact, when asked by His disciples about the appropriate manner in which to pray, He said:

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  11 Give us this day our daily bread.  12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  Matt. 6:9-13 (KJV)

Additionally, Christ addressed how we are and how we are not to pray.  Prayer is not supposed to be a public spectacle.  It is not a demonstration to show how holy or righteous we are.  It is a very personal time for communicating with the God of the universe.  Jesus also emphasized the point that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.  God knows; He gets it; He understands.  He knew before you even thought the thought or voiced the prayer. 

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matt. 6:5-7 (KJV)

There are a number of reasons for praying contained within the scriptures.  While the reasons for offering prayer to God are wide and varied and it is clear that we should take everything, without limitation, to God, one of these reasons is to overcome the weakness of the flesh.  The reason that we are to pray is not because we want to sin bur rather because our nature is weak and we succumb to our weakness. 

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Matt. 26:41 (KJV)

Prayer is also an important component in our spiritual battles against the powers of darkness.  In conjunction with arming ourselves for spiritual warfare, we are admonished to pray, not just for ourselves but for all the saints. 

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Eph. 6:18 (KJV)

While there are other reasons to pray, one that seems particularly difficult is set forth in Chapter 5 of Matthew. 

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matt. 5:44 (KJV)

Are we really to pray for those who abuse us?  Why would Christ command us to do such a thing?  Doesn’t He understand how difficult that would be?  The answer, of course, is that, yes, we are to pray for those who abuse us and that can be a difficult thing to do.  The reason is not necessarily because we should expect others to change (although that is probably what we are actually praying for) but instead it is with the expectation that we will be changed ourselves.  That change comes in a change of attitude when we pray for the abuser.  In all honesty the prayer for those who despitefully use us may be a prayer offered up grudgingly but it is a prayer that should still be consistently offered.  The reality is that it is very difficult to remain angry with a person you are praying for.

While the issue has been raised about the efficacy of prayer, i.e. whether prayer has any effect, the Bible is clear that prayer is not only powerful and but extremely valuable.  Prayer counts; it makes a difference. 


22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  Matt. 21:22 (KJV)

This is not “name it, claim it” theology as some might have you believe.  It is a simple statement made by Jesus Christ that anything you ask in prayer, believing it will be done, i.e. as an exercise of faith, will be done according to the will of God.  (Cf. Matt. 6:10). 

Similarly, we are to pray for each other when it comes to physical ailments and to our sins.  In that regard, James wrote:

13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  James 5:13-16(KJV)

Healing can be physical or it may be spiritual.  The most important healing can be for the soul, not just for the body.  However, when it comes to physical healing, medical studies now show that prayer makes a difference.

The next issue concerns how often we should pray.  Should prayer be offered up with each meal?  Should it be something we attend to each morning and at night?  The answer is that our prayer life should be continuous.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4



12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Rom. 12:12 (KJV)


7 Pray without ceasing.  1 Thess. 5:17 (KJV)

For some, this is a confusing idea.  A story that illustrates the idea of “praying without ceasing”   goes something like this.

Once there was a gathering of religious leaders who were debating the idea of “praying without ceasing” and what that really meant.  This discussion continued late into the evening around a large conference table when the cleaning woman entered the room to empty the trash cans.  Overhearing the discussion that seemed to drag on and on without agreement, the woman cleared her throat and quietly asked if she could say something.  The chairman of this committee answered, “Certainly.”  The woman said, “What you are talking about is simple.  I pray all the time.  When I get up in the morning, I thank God for giving me the health to get out of bed.  When I come to work, I thank Him for such a beautiful day and for giving me the ability to make a living.  I ask Him to help me out during the day when I have problems.  I thank Him for the people I see each day and I ask Him to look out for each of them, if it’s not too much trouble.  When I think about my family, I ask Him to watch over them and love them because I know He does.  And when I go home at night, I thank Him for seeing me through another day.  That’s what it means to pray all the time.  He’s just in your thoughts as you go about your day.”

This idea was encapsulated in an advertising slogan once used as a theme for a movie.  That slogan was “Think God.”  Keeping God first and foremost in mind as we go through our day lends purpose and direction to our lives.  Praying continuously fosters that purpose and direction.

Lastly, the importance of prayer does not diminish as we march toward the end of this age.  While no one knows when Christ will call His church, i.e. the body of believers, home, the Bible places emphasis on the critical nature of prayer during the end times. 

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Peter 4:7 (KJV)


33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.  Mark 13:33 (KJV)


36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  Luke 21:36 (KJV)

Prayer is an honor and a privilege and with the rending of the curtain leading into the Holy of Holies at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we received the ability to bring our petitions directly before our almighty Father in heaven.  We should follow the example of Christ; prayer was a primary focus and integral part of His life ending with His heartfelt, wrenching prayer offered up in the Garden of Gethsemane and while He was on the cross.  Prayer should not merely be a sporadic activity that we engage in when it is convenient or when we encounter the troubles of life; it should be our lifestyle.      

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