By: Dr. Julie Henderson, CVM Associate
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:36-37)
“There is nothing left to do but pray.”
It is what we say when we are at our wits end. We say it with a sense of despair. After we have done all that we can do to unsuccessfully rectify a tragic situation and are almost out of hope – we pray. We doubt that anything good will come of it except, maybe, a sense of peace. But will prayer actually change anything?
Why should we pray? How much should we pray? How should we pray? What is the good of prayer?
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. (Psalm 107:13)
We pray because we need His salvation, both in the eternal sense and presently. He is our Savior and Lord.
After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. (Matthew 14:23)
We need prayer! Jesus prayed. He spent the whole night alone in prayer (Luke 6:12). He prayed earnestly until His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:49) If Jesus being fully God and fully man took time to pray, then certainly we who are His disciples need to follow His example.
“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. He commanded them to pray (Luke 22:40, 46). Like the widow before the judge, we must be persistent in prayer and God will bring about justice for His children who cry out to Him day and night. (Luke 18:1, 7) In the face of great evil, we should fast and pray. (Matt 17:21) We should also pray with confidence according to Jesus’ promise that the Father loves us (John 16:27) and that whatever we ask in His name, to the glory of God –He will do it! (John 14: 13-14)
…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will… (Col 1:9)
We must pray if we are to know God and discern His will.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.(John 14:12)
Finally, we should pray to help others. I’ve come to believe that intercessory prayer is the greatest work we can do as children of God. Like Anna, we should be about the work of prayer continually. As His ambassadors, we must stand in the gap for those He brings into our lives. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Eph 6:12). These spiritual forces, however, have very real consequences in our physical world and our present circumstances.
Prayer moves mountains; prayer destroys the strongholds of the evil one. It is through prayer that we hear God and discern His will. It is by prayer that we have the mind of Christ through His Spirit that lives within us. In short, prayer changes everything.
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