WHAT DOES PRAYER DO?
A young woman named Julia told of her life experience:
“Here we go again! I wake up, look around my room and everything’s packed up in boxes. I guess we’re ready to move. The big truck opens the back door for us to fill that empty space. I’m used to by though, I’m 21 years old and I’ve moved about 14 times. It’s the same every single time: we get to our new home, gotta clean and unpack our lives back to normal. Before we know it, it’s time to go to the new school. Then comes the nervousness, the sweaty hands, and the stomach ache before getting into that new class in which everybody knows everybody—except you. It’s being the new kid on the block, the new kid on the block that speaks with an accent. And even though I do love the adrenaline that comes from starting out fresh, it still scares me to death every single time.
For most of my life I have had an anchor, a handful of people that has been and is always there for me, my family. I was sort of used to moving from city to city, from state to state, and even from country to country. However, every time we did I knew it would be all right, for with them I could do anything. The hard one was moving again, for perhaps the 11th time, but without them.
Bye mom, bye dad, and off to college to an unknown land. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew I would need some sort of aid to start all over again on my own.
Having been raised as a Christian I knew that there was a God, and that He would be there for me if I needed Him. But this time was different. My parents weren’t there to tell me how to rely on this other father that I had, a Heavenly Father. Meanwhile, school, work and new friendships were taking most of my time and that anchor, that foundation that allowed me to do everything wasn’t there anymore.
One day, as I was Skyping with my mom, and after having described my situation to her, she quoted one of Jesus Christ’s followers when he boldly stated: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I immediately asked, “But how? How do I do that?” And she uttered a two-word response that wasn’t new to my brain, but it felt different to my heart: “Just pray.” It was easy to say, but to learn how to do it was another story. We ended our call, and I decided I would give it a try. As I knelt down and started pouring out my heart to God out loud, the concept of Deity was no longer something distant and too deep for me to understand. The anchor, the foundation of my life, no matter how profound the change or how great the distance, had moved into a higher plane of trust through something as simple as prayer. When work, and school and friends piled up just like the boxes in that truck I knew, and I now know, that there is something simple, yet powerful that I can do: pray.
I’ve heard it said that “No man is taller than when he is on his knees” and after having to deal with change not just one more time but big time, I am completely assured that this saying is true. As I have made it a meaningful habit to talk to God, my Heavenly Father, I have been able to “do all things” because I trust in him. Furthermore, I have been able to discover in sweet, tender ways that He talks back to me, too.” (From Real Life Answers).
It was Tennyson who said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” But what does prayer do? As we look at the life of Jesus, I think we can see some parallels in our lives. The first thing I want to suggest to you is that
PRAYER FOCUSES OUR MINDS ON THE RESOURCES OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
There are so many distractions in life. People were clamoring at Jesus constantly, especially after he had healed several in Capernaum. It got so bad that He had to leave the home where he was staying in Capernaum, the home of Simon Peter, and go out upon a hill by himself before day and there communion with His Father.
This is one of the most striking pictures in all of the word of God. Picture Jesus in the darkness by himself praying in this solitary place. He withdrew from the crowd and had to be alone to pray. This does something to me to think of our blessed Lord upon his knees communing with the Father. Why did he need to pray? Ten times it says in the Gospels that Jesus went out into a solitary place and their prayed.
He prayed at his baptism, prior to selecting the Twelve, after his rejection in Galilee, as he revealed to his disciples that he was Messiah, when he was transfigured before them, at a time of deep sorrow, at the Last Supper, in Gethsemane, on the cross, and in other times to get away from the distractions of life.
Look at the distractions that we have had in the last week: a racial disturbance in Virginia, a threat from North Korea, and constant criticism and undermining of our President. This is just on a national level. Perhaps you could list several situations in your personal life that distracted you from what you really wanted to do and disturbed your soul.
In this last week have you felt a need to say, “My resources do not come from any of these things that bring me distractions. My resources palm from the Heavenly Father, therefore, I must allow prayer to focus my mind on the resources of my Father in heaven.”
Prayer does that. Prayer focuses our minds on the resources of God.
What are the resources of God that you need today? We all need courage to face every day. We need strength to stand before life and say, “I through Christ and more than a conqueror.” Of all the little foxes that try to spoil the vines of life, we need a spiritual resource that allows us to overcome.
But if our minds are constantly focused on all of the things that the news channels are telling us about and do not focus our attention on the resources of God, we are going to end up shallow in our spirits confused in our minds and feeling as though we are helpless to do anything about the personal challenges which we face in our lives.
No time to pray? Ah, it has been a hectic week.
“All who so fraught with earthly care as not to give humble prayer some part of the day.
No time to pray? What hearts so clean, so pure within that need if not some check from sin and needed not to pray.
No time to pray? Meet each day’s danger alone? What retreat more needful than the mercy seat who needs not to pray?
No time to pray? Then sure your record fall with short, excuse will fill you as resort on that last day.
No time to pray? What thought more drear than our God his face should hide and say through all life swelling time, ‘No time to hear.’” (Source unknown)
Do you allow your mind to be focused upon the resources of God? That’s what Jesus did. In the midst of his busy ministry he went aside and communed with the Father. He talked with God. And in the solitary quietness of that time, the Father spoke to Him and he was re-energized and refreshed to move forward in his ministry.
A talk with God refreshes our souls amidst the conflicts of life. As the old gospel song says, “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”
PRAYER TUNES OUR HEARTS TO GOD’s PURPOSE.
Just like a piano our lives get out of tune. It is not pleasant to listen to a piano that is out of tune. Neither is it pleasant to live when life is out of tune with God and with others. Through the years, we have had a piano tuner come to our home to tune our piano. I watched him as he would strike a note and tighten a string. Over and over again he would do this until every note was brought from dissonance into harmony again. We make the mistake of trying to correct just one or two notes in our lives with God while neglecting to bring other notes in harmony with Him.
Prayer places us in a position where the great life-tuner can bring all of the cords of our lives into harmony. He can tune the relationship between husband and wife, between parents and children, between family members who are disgruntled, between employer and employees, between friends who have miss understood each other, and between believers who are serving the Lord together.
When the disciples got up that morning they couldn’t find Jesus. Soon a crowd gathered and they went to find him and said, “Master, a crowd has gathered to see you. Come back with us and minister to them.”
Noticed what Jesus did. He said, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” And he went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee preaching and casting out demons.
What do you suppose happened in that solitary place when he was out there praying? When he prayed His heart was attuned to the Father’s purpose for Him. That is one of the great happenings in prayer.
Does the song you are singing have some sour notes? Does the life you are living seem out of focus? Do you feel that something needs to be done to bring your will and submission to the Father’s will? Do you need the refreshment of a fresh touch of God upon your life?
Prayer tunes our hearts to God’s purpose.
PRAYER AWAKENS A RENEWED COMPASSION FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS.
After the early morning prayer time, Jesus went into other Galilean cities. On the way he met a leper. This was a man whom the law said was untouchable. He was required to have his hair disheveled, his close tattered, and was required to call out when ever he saw a person approaching him, “Unclean, unclean!”
The Father had said to Him, “Go, and touch the untouchable.”
Evidently, the leper had heard about His power to heal. The Scripture describes it like this: “And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ And moved with compassion, he stretched out His hand, and touched him and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.”
Christian, church worker, Deacon, preacher, singer, – if we as a church are going to have the proper compassion for people – we can’t do it in our natural human understanding. That is not enough. Spiritual compassion is that which is born in the solitary place. It is God revealing to us the things that really matter.
Let’s look at your life. On this Sunday morning as we worship in this beautiful place, is there a need in your life to focus your mind on the resources of God? Prayer will do that. The Apostle Paul found it to be true. He said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.”
If you are living aimlessly in your weakness, I challenge you to find a solitary place where just you and the Father can talk about it.
If today, your heart is out of tune with God and needs to be retuned – prayer can do that. I love the old hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy Praise.”
If you are so absorbed with your own needs that you cannot have compassion for others, the solitary talk with the Father can reawaken what he wants you to do as his servant.
In the solitary place – there are RESOURCES, RE-TUNEMENT, and RE-AWAKENING to life.
That is what prayer does!
Praise be to His Name!