In Celebrate Recovery, we say that we believe in the power of prayer. Prayer works; we’ve seen it. This doesn’t mean prayer is chanted like some sort of magic spell but the Bible does tell us that we have some influence over the results.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
– Jesus, Matthew 21:22
We also say, “Don’t quit before your miracle happens,” and, “Whatever you ask, ask in Jesus’ name,” (which is actually a verse straight from scripture). I got to thinking about these declarations this morning, and I believe there are three corresponding things we must “do” to make prayers effective. In other words, there are three parts to the power of prayer.
#1. In Jesus’ Name
The phrase, “In Jesus’s name” packs a lot of meaning. To start, I think the better verse that describes asking in prayer is John 15:7:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
“Pre-requisites” isn’t exactly the right word to use, because this part of the power of prayer is not about anything we physically do, but instead is completely about the belief we hold. There’s a lot that invoking His name signifies. It means we believe:
- in God, the Creator, and that we have faith and trust in Him and the plans he does have for us
- in everything He tells us, which we hear by studying His Word and developing a personal relationship with Him
- that He does indeed have the power to make anything come to pass but that whatever does happen will be what’s best for us
- we must commit, from the very start, every effort to and for Him
#2. Believe you will receive, but…
This is the caveat to prayer, and it’s really all about accepting the results, whatever they may be, having faith that they will be what’s best. We won’t necessarily get exactly what we want, but what we do receive will be beneficial in the long run, all part of God’s plan and purpose. Maybe this is the biggest difference between prayer and magic, which would provide exactly what we want. This is also where we can feel let down – because what happens might not be what we think we want – until hindsight reveals otherwise.
Believe you will receive – not it (the thing you pray for) but what is best. Seems kind of contradictory, doesn’t it?
#3. Do your best, consistently, and don’t give up
This is where we really have some input. I’m reminded of the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Magic, if it existed, wouldn’t require any effort on our part. This is not how prayer works. Instead, whatever we do, we do it for the Lord and His glory, not for our own. We commit this work to God from the very beginning. We ask His blessing on our work. And we persevere; we persist until/unless He tells us to stop. Our personal relationship and ongoing time in meditation and study will reveal this. Basically, if the vision remains, continue to work toward it.
Finally, I feel it’s necessary to mention one more thing: about the reasonableness of our requests in prayer. What is “realistic?” Here is where we can limit ourselves, thinking that a particular outcome is impossible. My only advice is to listen to the testimonies of believers. I wholeheartedly believe in miracles. Prayer works, if you believe in it and let God work. Make your plea, do your best, and leave the results to God, accepting whatever comes to pass as meant to be.