Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

August 2022 Issue

Develop the Discipline to RISE ABOVE

From the July 2022 Issue

Get Focused—Be a Prayer Warrior

Online Exclusive: From This Point Forward

Get Focused—Be a Prayer Warrior

In 1828, a family of German Protestants named Hermès settled in France and opened a harness shop in Paris. Soon they were selling upscale products to European noblemen, and they haven’t stopped. Today you can still buy high-priced, high-quality Hermès products.

Hermès closed its retail stores in America for three days on one occasion and flew its 515 employees to an upscale hotel in Princeton. A host of motivational speakers were there to inspire and reinvigorate the company and its sales force. Hermès knew that joyless employees don’t sell many $150 bars of soap or $2300 bracelets. They needed a full slate of motivators to fire up their enthusiasm.

To really find spiritual focus, sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus.

Hermès isn’t alone in engaging motivational speakers. Many companies rely on inspirational conferences to rekindle enthusiasm, enhance attitudes, and restore focus to employees.

Motivational speakers and company conferences have their place, but human advice only goes so far. To really find spiritual focus, sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus. Nothing equals the motivation He gives for victorious living, and no one can equal His insight. Best of all, we don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to hear Him. We can arrange a personal meeting every day.

The Priority of Prayer

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” That verse reveals our bottom line and our top priority. The bottom line is: He is God, Creator of the Universe, Sustainer of Eternity. Our top priority is being still long enough each day to know Him. We need dedicated periods of silence and solitude for prayer and the Word. Our quiet time (emphasis on “quiet”) is for turning off the noise, unplugging the distractions, and meeting Him.

When our ancestors sat at home in earlier times, the only sound was the ticking of the clock on the wall. Working outside, they heard only the wind through the trees and the singing of the birds. When they walked by the creek, they listened to water gurgling over the rocks. But we can’t hear the birds for the traffic, or the ticking clock for the blaring television. We’ve replaced the gurgling water with whatever’s coming through our earphones.

I’m not against our electronics. I’m just saying we need to turn them off long enough to be still awhile; and we need to be still long enough to know that He is God. The Bible says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

This is the attitude of prayer, and it should be a priority for us. Learn to shut the door of your closet (Matthew 6:6); calm and quieted your soul (Psalm 131:2); and say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9).

The Practice of Prayer

There are three great ways to practice the privilege of prayer. First, pray alone. The biblical heroes knew how to retreat to solitary places and agonize with God in prayer. Jacob wrestled through the night until he found power with God and man. Daniel retired to his private room three times a day for prayer. The apostle John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when He met the Lord in glorious vision. Christ often withdrew by Himself in prayer. Let’s make sure we do the same.

Second, pray with a prayer partner. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). In The Upside of Downsizing, Karen O’Conner offered this testimony: “Years ago, I invited a woman I met at church to be my partner in prayer. I was new to the faith at the time and newly divorced. She agreed. Her marriage was over as well, and she was as devastated as I was. We’ve been praying together now for nearly 30 years!”1

Your prayer partner may be your husband or wife or a friend at church, and the partnership can last for decades.

Third, pray at church and in groups. One day in 1832, a group of believers gathered on a beautiful spot near Russellville, Ohio. It was a Saturday Camp Meeting and throngs of people gathered for singing, preaching, and an evangelistic appeal. The morning was cool and pleasant, and Reverend Burroughs Westlake preached on the text, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”

As he spoke, the outer fringes of the assembly became a scramble of confusion. The face of the sky had grown overcast with clouds portending a terrific storm. Volunteers were trying to throw up temporary tents, tie down supplies, and erect emergency shelters. As the preacher finished his sermon, everyone’s attention went to the impending storm. There was no way to protect young children or aged adults from the threatening lightning bolts, driving rain, dangerous winds, and crashing trees.

Suddenly a stranger ascended the platform. In a soft melodious voice, he began singing William Cowper’s hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” He then asked the assembly to kneel in prayer, and he began to pray softly and earnestly. The presence of the Lord seemed to descend as he prayed, and the crowd sensed they were on holy ground.

As the man led the assembled crowd in prayer, the clouds began rolling back as if repelled by an invisible force. The sky lightened, then brightened, then the sun broke through. Soon the skies were blue and warm sunshine streamed down on the meeting. Some later said it reminded them of Zechariah 14:7 (NIV, 1984), which refers to “a unique day—a day known only to the Lord.” For years afterward, those present recounted the story of the prayer that drove away the tempest and brought the sunshine.

The stranger who prayed was a local minister named William B. Christie. He went on to preach to the assembly from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Many were converted to Christ, including an infidel whose skepticism had vanished while sitting on his horse at the rear of the crowd during the storm-repelling prayer.2

The Power of Prayer

Cameron V. Thompson wrote, “A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power.”3 That statement reminds me of a story from the life of well-known motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who was open about his Christian faith. When he shared his life story with audiences, he often began with the tenth day of his life. “I died that day,” he says.

Ten days earlier the doctor had delivered Hilary Hinton Ziglar (Zig), telling his mother, “You have a perfectly healthy baby boy.” But the infant’s health took a downward turn, and when the doctor returned, he laid the baby on the bed, saying, “He is no more.”

As Zig told it: “My grandmother reached down and picked up this lifeless body, and they said she started talking to me. But you of course know that she was not talking to me, she was talking to her Heavenly Father. She was pleading for my life. God responded to that prayer, and obviously I did survive.”

Having been an object of such prayer early in life, Zig encouraged others it power and importance: “We need to carve out a time so that prayer is a priority to us. The pressures we face each day will threaten to crowd out our time with God, so we need to guard our time of prayer…. Prayer isn’t just a self-improvement exercise. When we pray, we are connecting with a living Person who loves, grieves, laughs, and hears.”4

At life’s greatest moments or dullest days, prayer is the conductor that keeps our focus on God—the One who can do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. Prayer changes our lives and motivates us to live each day in the presence and with the power of Almighty God.

Get focused on Him. And never forget: Prayer changes things!


1Karen O’Conner, The Upside of Downsizing (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers: 2011).
2Horace Lorenzo Hastings, Ebenezers; or Records of Prevailing Prayer (London: Houghton & Co., 1882), 11-17.
3Cameron V. Thompson, Master Secrets of Prayer (Madison, GA: Light for Living Publications, 1990), 13.
4Zig Ziglar, The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 8.

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