It’s been said that prayer changes things, but anyone who has walked - and talked - with the Lord knows that prayer changes us.
Pastor Doug pointed us to Luke 11 in his teaching on prayer this past Sunday. After walking with Jesus for over three years and experiencing all the miracles and listening to all the teaching, the disciples wanted more than anything else to learn how to pray. They had seen Him pray in every sort of situation. They had witnessed the power, peace and comfort that flowed from time spent talking with His Father, and they wanted to experience it for themselves.
Too often prayer becomes difficult for us. It happens when we somehow reduce it to a laundry list of things we want God to do for us, or when we come to Him after we have exhausted every other means of getting what we need. For some it has become a duty - another task to check off our “spiritual to-do list.” Prayer, as the disciples understood, is so much more than that. It is the wonder of being able to talk to the Living God - and knowing He hears and answers prayer.
Elisabeth Elliot put it this way:
"Prayer lays hold of God's plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Things happen which would not happen without prayer. Let's not forget that. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit's prayer....we often feel helpless and hopeless until we remember, 'We do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but His Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words'(Romans 8:26, Phillips)."
We don’t have to be spiritual “giants” to pray. We don’t have to accomplish great acts of service. We have only to come to the Father in Jesus’ name, fully surrendered to His will, and talk to Him.
To illustrate this, I share a story from my own experience - a story of ordinary women coming to an extraordinary God in the midst of a long, difficult drought.
On Thursday morning they gathered in the little portable building, as they had been doing for months, and took their accustomed seats around the table. The air conditioner hummed, working against the relentless heat and humidity, in an effort to make the small room comfortable. Outside, a few dark clouds gathered - hope for a drought-thirsty land.
One by one, hearts opened to share what lay heavy; for they knew this was a safe place. A place to drop the masks and lay down the protective armor. They had come, not to offer easy answers to hard questions. They had come to lay the weight of those questions and burdens at the feet of the One who hears and answers. Long ago they had agreed to pray BOLD prayers to the God for Whom nothing is impossible, and He had done miraculous things.
They bowed their heads and sat quietly before praying. "Be still…" He had said, "and know…"* The air conditioner cycled off. Peace filled the room, and then it came - the sound of thousands of raindrops hitting the metal roof above their heads. They opened their eyes and looked, in wonder, at one another. "It's like He has heard us and is pouring out His Spirit." They laughed for the sheer joy of it.
We have a Father who delights to give us good gifts - a Father who bends down to listen to us when we pray.
“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:2