When our children are small we tuck them into bed and night and ‘say prayers’ together—prayers that go something like this…
“Jesus, thank you for Daddy and Mommy (and any siblings), for my home, my nice comfy bed, my toys, and for all the other nice things you do for me. Please keep me safe, Jesus, and help me to be good and to love others the way you love me. Amen.”
We do the same thing at the dinner table—only at the table our prayers focus around giving thanks for the food.
I am in no way discounting the importance of bedtime and mealtime prayers. Not at all! We need to give thanks for the things God provides, and what better way to fall asleep than to have your mind on Jesus? But prayer is much more than saying thank you and asking Jesus to keep you safe… or at least it can be. Prayer at its best is deep, personal, and powerful conversation between you and the Savior, Jesus.
“… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b)
Examples of powerful prayer
Elijah called down fire from heaven when he prayed, asking God to prove that He was the one true God and that Baal was nothing more than a myth (1 Kings 18).
Hannah prayed so desperately for a son that she promised God she would give the boy back to Him if He would answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1).
When God told Hezekiah (through the prophet, Isaiah) that he was about to die, Hezekiah prayed and wept, asking God to heal him and give him more time here on earth. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer by telling him he would allow Hezekiah to live another fifteen years (2 Kings 19).
Jesus prayed that five little fish and two small loaves of bread would somehow be enough to feed five thousand men plus the women and children present… and it was so (Matthew 14).
Jesus’ prayers in the garden shortly before being arrested were so intense that he experienced a rare physical condition called hematohidrosis.
What is hematohidrosis and why did Jesus have it?
Jesus was in the garden praying. He was praying because he knew what was going to happen in just a little while. Knowing didn’t make what was coming any easier, though. But Jesus never forgot what we often do—that when it comes to life there’s no one better qualified to discuss it with than God, the giver of life. So that’s what he did.
The conversation was intense, but Jesus got the answer he was looking for. We know that because he sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:41-44).
That’s where most people’s familiarity with this incident stops, though. The common perception of this account is that it was Jesus’ anguish over what he was about to do that caused him to literally sweat blood. But that’s not it at all.
The clinical term for sweating blood is “hematohidrosis”. Here’s what happens. Around the sweat glands are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. When the anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture, like a springboard reaction gone bad. That, combined with the volume of sweat pushes the blood to the surface. And this causes the sweat to be excreted out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.
Jesus didn’t sweat blood because he was stressed and anxious. He sweated blood after God had given him the peace of mind and comfort he was so desperately seeking to be able to do God’s will.
That, my friends, is powerful prayer.
How to experience the power of prayer
At this point it’s safe to say that some of you are thinking that God doesn’t work that way today or that you aren’t “special enough” for God to answer your prayers. Or maybe you’ve been disappointed because God didn’t give you something you wanted.
If so, it is important for you to understand that God isn’t a genie with a magic lamp and he’s not the corner market where you can get everything on your shopping list.
God doesn’t always give us what we ask for. He knows better. He knows when giving us what we ask for is in our best interest and when it isn’t. As our parent, that’s his job—just like it is your job to do the same thing with your children. God also works differently than he did in the Old Testament—most of the time, anyway.
The Bible and the Holy Spirit show us who God is, more often than we get fire from heaven. But never think for a moment that God is not listening, and answering your prayers.
If you want to experience the power of prayer you need to:
Expect God to hear and answer you
Psalm 5:3 (NIV) says, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
You need to believe in who you are talking to, that He is listening, and will take action.
Pray God’s will for your life
God will not give us things that will physically or emotionally harm us. He will not give us something that will pull us away from him. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
God will also not alter his plan for mankind for our sake. None of us is going to live forever. So when praying, remember to pray what Jesus prayed, “Not my will but yours….”
Pray with a clean heart and Christ-like attitude
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
The extent to which we enjoy the power of prayer depends on how close we are to Jesus; meaning we should be striving for a clean and Christ-like attitude and heart.
Prayer is like the tools in your toolbox. When used the right way for the right reason, it is effective and good. When misused, it is not.
~ By Darla Noble