Saturday, April 26, 2008

What's the power of prayer anyways? Reflections on Prayer (part one)

So, a few weeks ago all I could think about was prayer. ACU hosted a week long 24-7 prayer tent and it got my wheels turning (surprise surprise...). It kind of made me uncomfortable and I was really confused as to why. I mean prayer isn't a bad thing, so why was it bothering me so much? It also seemed like every time I asked someone who was in charge of it any questions their answers were generally about the power of prayer and the power of prayer when we are united in prayer (i.e. God hears us better when more of us are praying and when we pray louder and longer...we all know how I feel about that one...). When I gave it a second (and third and fourth..) thought I realized that I couldn't understand the point of their efforts because to be honest, I'm not sure I know what the power of payer really is. To be honest prayer is something that is generally pretty difficult for me considering my recent relationship with God ect. Here are my hang ups about prayer:

- What is the purpose of prayer?
- Does prayer change things? If so, how?
- What should we pray for?
- Doesn't God get annoyed with us when we pray? (I know this makes me sound like I'm five but seriously...)

Here is what I know now:
- Prayer is often used as another word for asked/ told/ spoke with God. For example:
1.the passage in Exodus of the plagues of Egypt uses the word pray over and over again, referring to Moses and God talking to each other.
2.In I Samuel Hannah is crying and pouring out her heart to God and Eli thinks she is drunk. She replies that she is praying.
3.The prayers of David are so funny to me. He often prays like a little kid would pray, either completely in awe of God or mad or asking God for stuff. It very much resembles the way a child would speak to their parent.
4. Jonah's prayer inside the whale

It also seem that often prayer is about changing us. To clarify, people often talk about prayer changing things, but really I think prayer changes us. It changes our hearts and prepares for what's coming. There are lots of verses that would lead me to believe this:

If they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly'; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 1 kings 8:47-49

He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 1 Chronicles 5:20

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1- He confesses the sins of the Israelites and pray for strength to rebuild the wall.

The psalms are constantly asking God to hear the prayer (implying that sometimes God doesn't hear our prayers.... Isaiah 1:15 also supports this)

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Matthew 26:41

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints Ephesians 1:18

When Paul prays he often prays for courage for himself or others, for knowledge, for thankful hearts ect.

Here's the trouble: there is definitely somethings that I can't explain that happen when we pray and there are pasages that lead to the idea that prayer really does change things (as opposed to just changing us).
Example:Mark 11, James 5, Moses changing God's mind...

I hope to explore these passages more in further posts.

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