I haven’t met too many Christians who don’t believe in the power of prayer, just Christians who don’t pray with power. Now, I don’t believe it’s because people don’t want to, instead, I think it’s because people don’t know how too. Think about what most people pray for:
- Beauty contestants pray for world hunger and peace
- Like a person who prays, “Be with me,” but God’s like, “But I never left you.”
- Like a person who prays, “Bless me,” but God’s like, “Do you see where you live?”
- Like a person who prays, “Protect my family,” but God’s like, “Protect them from what?”
Because here’s something I learned a long time ago about prayer, general prayers don’t move God to specific action.
I Command Thee…
In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Friedrich Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church…. The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”
Although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s letter came, he recovered completely and lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.
(MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Colossians and Philemon.)
Luther didn’t say, “Lord, be with my friend Myconius…” or even, “Lord heal my friend Myconius…” Luther prayed with power and prayed specificity! And who got the glory? God! God got the glory!
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
One of Paul’s most powerful prayers in all of his letters is located in Ephesians 3. As Paul sits in a dark, nasty, prison in Rome, he pens these powerful words to Christians in Ephesus.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT) 14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 THEN Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. THEN you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Paul fell on his knees, which is interesting considering the common posture for Jews while praying was standing with their arms outstretched and palms pointing toward the sky. But even in the midst of praying for his brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul gives incredible glory to God.
You see, the key to praying with power is not only realizing that general prayers don’t move God to specific action, but to brag on God to get all the glory. Remember today the words of Jesus to his disciples in John 14:13 (NLT) 13 You can ask for anything in my name (Jesus), and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.