Tag Archives: effective prayer

PRAYER REALLY CHANGES THINGS

Prayer Really Changes Things

by Rev Ed Hird

The story is told of two men, Harry and Stan, who have known each other for some time.  Harry has fallen upon hard times and has come to his old friend asking for some help.

”Why come to me?” Stan asks.  “Why should I help you out?  What have you ever done for me?”

”What have I ever done for you?” Harry gasps.  “Why, don’t you remember when your house burned down several years ago, and you and your family moved in with me?”

”Yes, I remember.  But…”

”And what about the time your child was in danger of drowning and I jumped into the lake to rescue him?”

”Yes, but…”

”And how about the time that you lost your job and I gave you all that money?  Don’t you remember?  I’ve done lots for you through the years!”

”Everything you say is true enough”, Stan says.  “But what have you done for me lately?”

Most of us on the North Shore (British Columbia, Canada) have many things to be grateful for: employment, children, family, food on the table, a roof over our head, the forest, the mountains, the beaches, the sunshine.  All these things are wonderful gifts from God.  Prayer is simply a way of saying “Thank you” for all these wonderful gifts.  It is so easy to grumble and complain.  It takes work to be grateful and thankful for what we have.  When we make the decision to say “thank you”, things begin to change in our lives.  When we make the decision to acknowledge our “Higher Power”, more peace and contentment can enter our personal lives.  Prayer really changes things, but first it changes us!

Dr. Reginald Bibby, the famous Canadian sociologist, has done some very interesting statistical research on the prayer habits and beliefs of Canadians.  He found that 75% of Canadians pray privately at least once in a while, 30% pray daily, and 28% say grace before meals at least once a week.  Close to 50% of Canadians acknowledge the possibility of having experienced God’s presence in their daily lives.  Bibby also notes that more than 40% of the nation’s 15 to 19 year olds believe that they have experienced God.  Clearly prayer is still a meaningful activity for the vast majority of Canadians.  But Canadians, especially the Baby-boomers, are wanting prayer to be much more experiential and informal than in the past.

Even though Canadians are people of prayer, they are also very private about their prayer lives.  Often even their spouses, or their closest friends don’t know about the extent of their prayer lives.  In previous decades, the taboo subjects were sex, death, and politics.  In our “liberated” age, the one topic that people still feel embarrassed to mention in polite conversation is their prayer lives.  Yet studies, referred to in Newsweek, show that spouses who can pray together report greater degrees of marital satisfaction and greater sexual intimacy.  One study showed that while up to 1 in 2 marriages break up, only 1 in 20 marriages break up where both of the couple regularly attend church.  More significantly, the study showed that only 1 in 200 couples break up where both couples go to church regularly and pray together on a regular basis.  It is encouraging to see research confirm the historic belief that “the family that prays together stays together.”  Prayer, it seems, really changes things.

Even medical science is beginning to confirm that prayer really makes a difference in the health and recovery of individuals.  In an experiment at San Francisco General Hospital, reported in the Southern Medical Journal, a researcher asked outsiders to pray for a group of cardiac patients.  Even though the patients weren’t told that prayers were being said for them, the study found that they recovered faster than those in an otherwise identical control group.  Studies by Harvard Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson showed that patients that prayed were more successful at lowering metabolic rates, slowing the heart rate and reducing other symptoms of stress.  Even science is showing that prayer really changes things.

BE HONEST – PART 2

Be Honest – Part 2

Last week I chose one of 4 questions that can be used to make sure that my discernment is God directed and not personal. I chose number 2 to start. Do I feel jealous or threatened?

Today I will go back to number 1.

Am I a critical person by nature?

This hit me hard. I am constantly judging people, actions and ideas. I ask these questions:

Why did that happen?

Why would she do such a thing?

Wouldn’t it be better if…?

I guess the perfectionism in me brings out this characteristic. What I do know is that I can overcome some of this by looking to God. I have a particularly strong nature – so I have to temper that with a lot of prayer in order to know that it is God speaking and not me. I don’t want to be deceived by this earthly characteristic.

For example: Three years ago I went on a mission trip to Poland. I was led to believe I had charge of the children’s program. Organizer that I am, I prepared what I thought would be the best for the children. After the first day I knew there was a problem. I could feel the tension in the group of leaders. We had a number of Polish leaders in our group who were strong willed as well. You can see a confrontation coming can’t you? Thank the Lord – I saw it, too. After praying by myself I knew the only way to reconcile this group was a group prayer session. I immediately called the group together to pray. As we spilled out our hearts to God, tears ran and we all agreed to listen closely to every opinion. We revamped the program and it ran very well for the rest of the week. That was a lesson in discernment – hearing God after getting rid of my critical nature. Painful but productive for God and eventually for me.

Prayer:

Father, for those of us who are critical by nature, help us see the Truth of Your will in all our situations. Be our guiding Light so we can hear from You and not from our own natures. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN

Next week I will continue with another question. This study is based on a book called Faithful, Abundant and True with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore.

INTERCESSION: PATRIOTISM AT ITS HIGHEST

Intercession: Patriotism at its Highest

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted with permission from October 4, 2010)

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Lamentations 3:43-66

TO CHEW ON: “My eyes overflow with rivers of water
For the destruction of the daughter of my people.My eyes flow and do not ceaseWithout interruptionTill the Lord from heavenLooks down and sees.” Lamentations 3:48-50
Jeremiah here shows himself a patriot whose heart breaks when God comes through with threatened judgments against Judah. What a picture of persevering intercession for his nation!

We are reminded of other leaders who prayed for their people.

  • Moses interceded for Israel when God threatened to destroy them after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:30-32), and again when God’s anger was hot at their refusal to enter Canaan (Numbers 14:17-19).
  • Samuel prayed for the people when they wanted to return to God after a time of backsliding (1 Samuel 7:2-6).
  • David interceded for God’s mercy on the people after they were inflicted by a plague following his sin of initiating a census (1 Chronicles 21:16-19).

We don’t have to be leaders to intercede for our country. Dick Eastman says of the intercessor:

“An intercessor is a man or woman — or child — who fights on behalf of others. As such, intercession is the activity that identifies us most with Christ. To be an intercessor is to be like Jesus because that is what Jesus is like. He ever lives to intercede (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34)!”

Eastman goes on to give four insights that help us understand the role of the intercessor and grasp its impact:

1. We must understand our “privilege” as intercessors. Christ is ever at God’s right hand (Romans 8:34 linked above), and from this position He intercedes for the saints continuously. To be at God’s right hand is spoken of in the Bible as being a great privilege and pleasure (Psalm 16:11).

2. We must understand our “position” as intercessors. We are energized (Ephesians 2:45), elevated (Ephesians 2:6: “raised… up together”), and enthroned with Christ in intercession (Mark 11:22-24).

3. We must understand our “promise” as intercessors. Our objective is to see God’s Kingdom established (Isaiah 11:9).

4. We must understand our “power” as intercessors. See Luke 10:19“Our Lord is saying that those who move in the direction of involvement and are willing to pay the price of intervention will have all the power necessary to confront demonic forces in their citadels.”

— Dick Eastman, summary and quotes from Love on its Knees, pp. 21-25.

What a privilege to be able to serve one’s country in this way!

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the urgency and conviction of interceding for my nation that I see in Moses, Samuel, David and Jeremiah. Amen.

MORE: Intercession’s impact

“I am convinced that when we stand before God with the record of spiritual successes and failures, we will learn that intercessory prayer had more to do with bringing about positive changes in our world than any other single spiritual activity.” – Dick Eastman, Love On Its Knees, p. 17.

PERSISTENCE

Persistence

by Rose McCormick Brandon

“So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened” Luke 11:9,10 (AMP).

Persistence is important in all areas of life but no where more important than in prayer. Jesus told of a man who knocked at his friend’s door late at night. He needed bread to feed a late visitor. The friend tucked in for the night refused to get up. The man knocking wouldn’t to take “no” for an answer. It was his “keep on knocking” characteristic that caused the sleepy man to get out of bed and give his neighbor bread.

In Barnes’ commentary, he writes, “If the thing (we ask for) is for our good, and if it is proper that it should be granted . . . let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere (in prayer) until God gives it.”

Too often we pray a few times for a promised blessing and then give up. After praying for the infilling of the Spirit a few times, a man concluded, “Well, God knows where I live and if He wants to fill me with His Spirit, I’m available.” If our employer forgot to pay us, would we not make phone calls and visit his office continually until he cut us a check? We wouldn’t leave money that rightfully belonged to us unclaimed.

Jesus, the giver of many unclaimed gifts, has planned to give them to the preserving.  Are you continually knocking and asking for God’s good things – salvation for loved ones, the power of the Holy Spirit, guidance, wisdom, opportunities to witness, employment and so much more – if you are, keep on. If you’ve given up in despair, grab the doorknocker of Heaven again.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” Luke 18:1-5 NIV.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence
Talent will not –
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent
Genius will not –
Unrewarded genius is frequently found
Education will not –
The world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence alone is unbeatable.   (author unknown)

Prayer:

Lord, thanks for the reminder to persist in asking for your blessings. Please give me Your strength and courage to keep knocking on Your door.

Rose McCormick Brandon writes personal experience essays, Bible studies, news articles, profiles and devotionals from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.

NIGHT PRAYERS

Night Prayers

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted with permission from September 22, 2010)

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 5:33-6:16

TO CHEW ON: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day He called His disciples to Himself and from them He chose twelve whom He also called Apostles.” Luke 6:12-13

As I grow older, one of the changes I’ve noticed in myself is that I don’t sleep as well. What I try to remember to do during the minutes and hours of wakefulness, is pray.

I find I am in good company. As I study Bible characters who did the same thing, I discover that they spent time at night praying instead of sleeping for a variety of reasons.

1. Jacob spent all night wrestling with an angel of God the night before he had arranged to meet his brother Esau, from whom he had been estranged for years because he had tricked him out of his birthright.

2. Samuel, grieved and angry, “cried out to the Lord all night” after God told him that He regretted choosing Saul as king.

3. David woke at midnight with his heart so full of joy at God’s “righteous judgements” that he got up to give thanks.

4. Jesus prayed all night before He chose His twelve apostles (our focus verse today).

5. Paul and Silas were still praying and singing hymns at midnight after they had been arrested, beaten and locked up in a Philippian prison.

Watching these people pray during a time when folks normally sleep shows us:
– they were confident that God never sleeps.
– they believed praying would make a difference.
– they were eager to include God in every part of their day.

So, whether you’re awake at night because tomorrow is a big day, your emotions are riled-up, or you’re in too much physical pain and discomfort to sleep, take it as an invitation to join the crowd of night praye-ers. In fact, your night prayers are probably way more important to the situation than the sleep you’re missing is to your next day.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that You never sleep. Remind me to use the times at night when I can’t sleep to commune with You. Amen.

MORE: Thoughts on prayer

“As a camel kneels before his master to have him remove his burden at the end of the day, so kneel each night and let the Master take your burden.” — Corrie Ten Boom

“It’s so easy to promise to pray for people, or just plan to pray for people, and forget. So many afflictions, so many tragedies or desperate hopes that cry out for intercession. Only an instant of my time, only a few words, a thought — and who knows? It may be the only word of prayer that person will get.” — Marjorie Holmes

“Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.” — Matthew Henry

“Prayer is not something we do at a specific time, but something we do all the time.” Richard Owen Roberts

THE SECRET OF EFFECTIVENESS

The Secret of Effectiveness

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted from September 21, 2010)

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 5:12-32

TO CHEW ON: “However the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16

If anyone had an excuse for not having the time and energy to pray, it was Jesus. Wherever He went, the crowds gathered. Even times he set aside for relaxation, or wanted stillness to grieve were hijacked by the multitudes. They followed this captivating teacher and compassionate healer wherever He went, around lakes, up mountainsides and into isolated places.

Jesus’ deity did not trump His fatigue either. For we see Him after one long day fast asleep in a storm-tossed boat.

However, He never used the excuse that He was too busy or too tired to pray. Instead He made opportunities to commune with His father in a variety of times and ways. For He knew that His power for ministry was linked at the very artery/vein level, to prayer. Note the word “So” in our focus verse. The people were coming to Him to be taught and healed. So (thus) He needed to pray.

  • At other times He went into the wilderness (our focus verse).

In the light of Jesus’ example, I ask myself:
– Do I make the time and opportunity to pray? Or do I make excuses about why I don’t pray?
– Do I start my day and my projects with prayer?
– Do I deal with life’s heavy times first in prayer?
– Do I let the insights I gain during times of prayer inform my living?
– Am I a continuing student of prayer?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I love the example You set in prayer. Please teach me to pray. Amen.

TRAIN TO POLAND – PART 2

Train to Poland — Part 2

by Grace Fox (first printed  Train to Poland – Part 2, July 22nd, 2010)

This is our eighth trip to Eastern Europe since 2008 and, apart from gasping at near head-on collisions, I’ve never felt afraid. Until today, that is.

Passengers come and go on these trains. For several miles, two men in their 60s sat on the bench across from us. Theirs was an animated conversation until one turned his attention to me and began jabbering in Polish. His eyebrows shot up when I told him that I couldn’t understand because I spoke only English. He moved closer, grabbed my hand and kissed it.

I was okay with this display of Polish culture but squirmed inside when he began to squeeze my hand and pat my arm with his other hand. Then he leaned toward my face. All of this happened within a few seconds. A teenage boy in the next seat began translating what the man was saying, at which time Gene stood up and asked the man to back off.

The man responded by speaking louder and squeezing tighter. Gene repeated his request. The man turned up his volume and now leaned towards my husband. Visions of his punching Gene popped into my head. I shot up an arrow prayer for help.

At that exact moment, the conductor stepped into our train car. Understand that conductors routinely walk through the cars to ensure that all passengers have purchased tickets and aren’t freeloading. This conductor hadn’t set foot in this car for the past hour despite the train making numerous stops and collecting passengers along the way. His sudden appearance at that exact moment was nothing short of an immediate answer to prayer.

Without speaking a word, the conductor sized up the situation and took control. He pulled the man away from me and kicked him off the train when it stopped a few moments later. Everyone in the car heaved a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry,” said the conductor as he walked way.

“No problem,” I said, whispering a big thank-you to God under my breath. He showed up as my protector in the form of a train conductor – how awesome is that? While it was quite amazing to see Him answer prayer so quickly, I truly hope He won’t have to do it again!

THREE INSIGHTS ON PRAYER

Three Insights on Prayer

by Grace Fox, reposted from July 28th, 2010 with permission.

Prayer is a divine mystery to me so I love discovering new truths about it. I recently ran across this passage and found it contained several keys to a more effective prayer life.

“When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed. He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD. Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again! Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.” (2 Kings 4:32-35)

Here are a couple of insights that stood out to me:

  • Elisha didn’t wring his hands or panic when faced with a humanly impossible situation. His first response was to seek God. His example challenges me to evaluate my response in crisis. Do I seek Him first, or do I stew and fret and finally turn to Him only when I’ve reached desperation?
  • Elisha prayed alone. This was an intense situation nevertheless he didn’t run to rally his friends for encouragement. It’s fine when we can share our burdens with others, but this story tells me that God is enough when friends aren’t around. He’s the One on whom we can always call and find dependable.
  • After Elisha prayed, he moved into action. Sometimes prayer alone changes a situation; sometimes we need to do our part to make a change. As our relationship with God deepens, we become more aware of when we need to take action and if so, what that action entails.

Can you identify with any of these insights? If so, which one? Why?

PRAY WITH YOUR EYES OPEN

Pray with Your Eyes Open

by Violet Nesdoly – first published as “Pray with your Eyes Open”, January 29, 2007

Oh my! I’m sure if my primary Sunday School teacher read that, she’d try to bust out of her grave – considering the way she drilled into us: “Close your eyes when you pray!” However, the section of 1 Peter that I’ve picked out as my verse(s) for the year begins, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”

Sounds like open eyes to me.

So lately I’ve been asking myself, exactly how is one ‘watchful in prayers.’ Here’s an incomplete list of things I’ve thought of:

1. Look at the day ahead of you and your family. Pray for things like protection during travel, help with tests and interviews, guidance during shopping, creativity during housekeeping (and joy during cleaning?) etc.

2. Pray similarly for your church family. If you’ve heard rumblings of discontent, pray for church unity and leadership wisdom.

3. Cover missionary friends and family with prayers for protection from diseases, unsafe political environments, discouragement, marital discord etc.

4. Read reports from organizations that track the persecuted church (like Voice of the Martyrs). You’ll be alerted to incidents the secular press never reports on. I find this also gives me an overview of global trends. For example, whereas the great resistor of the Gospel formerly was Communism, now it is Islam.

5. While watching/listening to/reading the news, notice things to pray about on global and local levels.

6. Also read your local paper with your prayer antennae up. Take note of crime trends, note local issues and specific challenges facing your mayor, council, police etc. and pray about those.

7. Don’t forget to pray for members of the media (or against them?!). Seriously, the belief biases of talk show hosts, news anchors, and reporters (not to speak of sit-com writers) are thinly veiled if at all and have great influence (how do you think same-sex marriage went from being unthinkable to being accepted by a near majority of Canadians?). Pray for the salvation of media personnel and that godly people will find employment in mainstream media.

Like I said, an incomplete list but a start. And come to think of it, if I explained this kind of “eyes open” praying to my former teacher, I’m sure she’d heartily agree.

POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE PRAYER

Powerful and Effective Prayer

Many believers admit that their greatest spiritual weakness is in the area of prayer.

I have heard this statement time and again. Why? Are they afraid to pray? Do they feel unworthy of speaking to God? Do they not think He listens and answers? Or do they not have the right Spiritual Index.

That is what Oswald Chambers calls it. (August 24th Devotional from My Utmost for His Highest).

“As a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light. …It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God.”

Those words resonated with me this morning.

Then I turned to the Bible study I am working through after my mission trip to Poland. It was on the same topic. Was this a God-incident? I think so.

Here are some thoughts on which to ponder.

Based on James 5: 17-18

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

James tells us that this is an example of a righteous man that prays. Prayers can make a difference. Prayers are powerful. But we need to be in His will.

Righteous Christians are those who have confessed (read 1 John 1:9) and agreed with God about any personal sin revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. When we are cleansed from unrighteousness we are free to release our request to God and it will be powerful, effective and heard by Almighty God.

Righteousness is being right with God. We can’t whine and complain if we aren’t clearly working with Him. So I challenge you to talk to Him, get right with Him and then give Him your cares and concerns.

Prayer:

Thank You Lord for hearing the prayers of the righteous. If there is any unconfessed sin in our hearts please reveal it to us. We thank You that our prayers can be powerful and effective. Thank You for this wonderful way to connect with You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.