The Power of Prayer
Everyone agrees that it’s a good idea to pray, but the step between actually thinking about it and dedicating ourselves to pray for our town or a nation, can sometimes be a big one. Why is that?
I see two reasons for this. The first is that in our results driven world, it can be hard to measure the results of our prayers – even when we see direct answers there can still be a question mark. «Was it my prayers that made the difference here or would this have happened anyway?» This is not a new phenomenon, in the book of Acts (chapter 12) Peter is in prison and the early church are praying (presumably for his release) when Peter is supernaturally released from prison. When he knocks at the door and the servant girl reports that he is there, nobody believes it is him and they leave him standing on the doorstep! So it’s safe to assume that if it was a problem for these early saints it may also be a problem for us.
This problem is increased when we pray for far off people groups where it is often unsafe to report what is actually happening on the ground. We often do not hear the answers to our prayers. When we do however it can transform us and our attitude to prayer – I was recently at a 4 day prayer event where hundreds of people were praying intensively for the Muslim world. The second day we prayed into the situation with Islamic State and we had a time of very focused prayer for one particular region of a country that is under attack from IS; we asked God to change things there and to draw people to Jesus. The next morning a friend of mine who lives in that country received a text message from a friend who had never shown any interest in Jesus. He was working in the area that we had been specifically praying for.
The message read «Last night Jesus visited me in a dream – I am a bit scared – we need to talk about this». What an incredible and immediate answer to our prayers and a huge encouragement to keep going.
We may or may not hear of the answers to our prayers in this lifetime, but we are called to pray anyway. Jesus doesn’t say «if you pray», he says «when you pray..» Since the 30 days of prayer for Muslims over Ramadan started over 25 years ago, more Muslims have come to faith than in the previous several centuries. Those who began this, didn’t know that would happen when they started, but they prayed anyway. They obeyed what God was asking them to do and they took time out of their busy lives to pray.
Which leads to the second problem, which is time, and I believe that once we sort out the first issue in our minds, that solves the time issue. We make time for things that we believe are important, so it is crucial that we understand the importance of prayer. Set aside 10 minutes a day to pray for the Muslim world, you won’t regret it – your eyes will be opened to what God is doing amongst Muslims today and the consequences of your prayers will be eternal. Who knows who may be a part of that «great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb» because of your prayers.