Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

August 2022 Issue

Develop the Discipline to RISE ABOVE

From the July 2022 Issue

Maybe We Should Take a Moment to Pray

Maybe We Should Take a Moment to Pray

Underutilizing the Power of Prayer

Did you notice how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought prayer into greater prominence in the world? Even secular businesses put up signs saying, “Pray for Ukraine.” Churches held prayer vigils. Newscasters asked us to pray for the victims, as did our public leaders. Recording artists wrote prayers for Ukraine, and some U.S. governors called for statewide days of prayer. The National Review printed a prayer to guide their readers; and during the Miss World ceremony, a prayer for peace appeared on the screen.

If you’re like me, you held up this entire nation before God.

Most Christians are underutilizing the power of prayer in their lives.

In Ukraine itself, we were moved by scenes of people praying in their churches and public squares. One secular radio station had a number of Christian employees, and the station changed its programming to encourage people to pray rather than panic. When a pastor in Kyiv, Andrei Martinov, was asked if he was nervous because his church sat squarely between Russian and Ukrainian forces, he said, “No! No. No. We just pray.”1

We can learn a lot from that!

How often do we tell others we will pray for them, but our mind becomes preoccupied with other thoughts, and we forget to pray for their need? Or how often do we rush to find a solution to a problem instead of bringing the problem to our Heavenly Father and asking Him for help? Our lives and the lives of those around us are filled with relationships, circumstances, and decisions that are in need of prayer each day. So why don’t we more instinctively think of approaching God’s throne to secure the assistance of heaven before we search for solutions on our own?

How often is prayer our last resort? When we encounter a difficulty or when we hear of global distresses, we’re apt to run to tell someone. Perhaps we check our phones for the latest news or texts or emails. We’re eager to see what our favorite pundits have to say, or our friends or family.

No. No. We should pray.

The goal of the Christian life is simply to become more like Christ.

Most Christians are underutilizing the power of prayer in their lives. Prayer should be our first reaction, not our last resort.

Prayer is our instant connection with the power of heaven. It’s our open line to the throne, and we’re told to come boldly to find grace to help in time of need. Elisabeth Elliot said, “Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.”

If you need to sharpen your prayer instincts, I’ve got four reminders.

The Bible Is a Book of Prayer

Prayer should be our first reaction to any situation life throws our way.

First, remember that the Bible is a Book of prayer. The more you’re in God’s Word, the more you’ll be before His throne. The more you let Him speak to you, the more you’ll speak to Him. Often our neglect of Scripture and our oversight of prayer are two sides of the same tarnished coin.

As we read and study our Bibles, we often find our best prayers are the ones we discover in the Bible itself. In his book, Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney wrote, “The method of most Christians in prayer is to say the same old things about the same old things. After forty years of experience in ministry, I am convinced that this problem is almost universal.” His solution is learning to pray through the passages of Scripture we’re studying, and he particularly loves praying from the book of Psalms.

“A woman, let’s say, who wants to pray for her children or grandchildren might pray for them today as she prays through Psalm 23…. Tomorrow she might pray through 1 Corinthians 13, and doing so leads her to ask the Lord to develop in her children the kind of love taught in this chapter. The next day, while making her way through Psalm 1, the text guides her to pray that her children would become meditators on the Word of God…. The following day she finds herself in Galatians 5 and pleads with the Lord to develop the fruit of the Spirit in her children.”2

Jesus Was a Man of Prayer

As we work our way through the Bible, we come face to face with Jesus. In the Gospels, we see Him praying, teaching others to pray, and modeling prayer in all kinds of circumstances. S. D. Gordon, in his classic book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, said, “Jesus prayed. He loved to pray. Sometimes praying was His way of resting. He prayed so much and so often that it became a part of His life. It became to Him like breathing.”3

The goal of the Christian life is simply to become more like Christ. He was always taking a moment to pray. Sometimes His prayer was as short as a sigh and one word (Mark 7:34). Other times it was deep, long, and far-reaching (John 17). He prayed in private (Mark 1:35) and in public (Matthew 15:35-36). He prayed for others (Luke 22:32) and for Himself (Matthew 26:39). His disciples had never seen anything like it, and in awe they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

We Should Be People of Prayer

When we offer that same prayer, it helps us become people of prayer too. That’s my third reminder. Elmer Towns wrote about a time when he was terribly sick with the stomach flu. He was trying to get home, but his flight had been canceled. The thought of staying in the airport was untenable. He called his prayer partner, a logger named Buddy Bryant, and told him of the predicament. Immediately Buddy broke out into prayer over the phone for Elmer’s healing as well as for a quick flight home. As soon as Elmer hung up, he heard an announcement: “Another plane is here and we will be leaving within twenty minutes.”

A young man sitting in the terminal beside Elmer had heard the whole conversation, and he looked over and said, “I bet you think that airplane is an answer to your prayer. That’s not a miracle, just coincidence.”

Elmer was too sick to say much, but he prayed for wisdom and said, “I serve a God of coincidences.”4

Our God of coincidences loves it when we take a moment to pray, and especially when we do it together with another person or group. We’re called to be people of prayer, and none of us will ever know—at least not on earth—how many thousands of answers God has bestowed.

We Can Harness the Power of Prayer

My fourth reminder is an encouragement to harness the power of prayer. In my book Prayer—The Great Adventure, I wrote, “No matter who we are or what our life circumstances may be, prayer can become for us a thrilling, daily adventure. So many of us are needlessly living at a level far beneath that which God wants for us. He has a storehouse full of rich provisions, just waiting to be distributed to all those who will simply ask Him to open His hand. So often it is true that we have not because we ask not.”5

Add this sentence to your conversations at home, with friends, and at church: “Maybe we should take a moment to pray.” And make sure you leave a generous moment open in each day’s schedule so you can harness the power of prayer in your own life. Let’s learn to pray instantly, instinctively, and naturally. Prayer should be our first reaction to any situation life throws our way.

We MUST take a moment to pray, in times of war and in times of peace, in seasons of distress and during days of joy. In every daily circumstance—even before making a purchase or meeting a friend—in all the mundane and in all the massive issues of life, let’s always take a moment to pray!

Sources:

1George Thomas, “‘We Are the Church…We Do Not Run From War’: Frontlines Ukrainian Church Standing Strong for the Gospel,” CBN News, March 17, 2022.
2Donald S. Whitney, Praying the Bible Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 14, 79.
3S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer Fleming H. Revell Company, ud), 209.
4Elmer Towns,How God Answers Prayer (Destiny Image, 2011), chapter 8.
5David Jeremiah, Prayer—The Great Adventure Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1997), 19.

More from Turning Point Radio

/