One of my favorite quotes on prayer is from Alfred Lord Tennyson, who once wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
I look forward to the day in heaven when it will be revealed to me what my prayers accomplished during my lifetime. However, lifted to the throne of grace in the power of God’s own Holy Spirit, my prayers are not really mine. I am the vessel he uses to achieve his purpose and will in my world.
In his book Shine His Light: A Simple Way to Pray, Care and Share Jesus in Your Neighborhood, Alvin VanderGriend wrote,
It is clear from Scripture that prayer makes a difference. When Moses stood on a hillside and prayed for Joshua and the armies of Israel, prayer made the difference between victory and defeat.
God’s Guiding Hand for Moses
The moment VanderGriend is referring to is written in Exodus 17. In it, the Lord had brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt with Moses leading the way. Moses was always in contact with God, seeking his guiding hand. With the same staff that parted the sea, Moses also brought water from a rock for the thirsty Israelites and gave victory to them when they were attacked by the Amaleks.
“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So, Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword” (Ex. 17:8-13).
God’s Guiding Direction for Elijah
When Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel, his connection with God was equally impactful. Prayer made the difference between drought and rain:
And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.’ So, Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ And he went up and looked and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And he said, ‘Go again,’ seven times. And at the seventh time he said, ‘Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ And he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you. And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain’ (1 Kings 18:41-45).
Seeing the Power of Prayer
Prayer is the means by which believers are able to accomplish great works for God. We see this truth through Jesus’s words in John: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
Prayer is also the means by which God’s power is released in this world: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).
If prayer is so powerful why don’t we see its effects more readily in our world today? VanderGriend poses that it is because “so few of us really understand the importance of prayer. We do not see prayer as the key factor in building the church or changing the world.”
Dave Butts, president of Harvest Prayer Ministries, echoes this thought in his article “Intercession: Unleashing God’s Power on Earth.” He writes, “Most of us do not look at ourselves as ‘world changers.’ We do not see ourselves as having the power or influence to change the direction of nations. As Christians, however, we affirm the power of God to impact the nations. That power is released through the prayers of people just like you and me.”
Dave Butts then challenges us to “begin to pray for the people around you, as well as for world leaders and the flow of world events.”
Prayer Makes a Difference
The ongoing effects of the coronavirus have placed our world into constant change. Believe that your prayers can be the support that the leadership in our government and our churches need. Stand alongside our president and elected leaders, alongside our pastor and elders—holding their arms up high through the current division in our nation and the unrest in our church.
As believers, we are God’s presence in this world through the power of his own Spirit dwelling within us. We can make a difference. Believers, let us join together on our knees before the throne of heaven, beseeching the Sovereign God of the universe in prayer for our families, neighbors, church, community, and nation.