When we think about prayer, our expectations often revolve around its tangible impact.
Prayer is a powerful weapon that affects our circumstances and the people around us. There is a reality in the place of prayer that many of us often neglect and overlook: Our prayer doesn’t change God, but it changes us.
In the first few years of my life as a follower of Jesus, I knew nothing about ministry. My faith towards God then was a simple and pure response to who He is and what He has done for me through tangible encounters with His presence and love.
Somehow, during that season, David and Moses were often preached about and quoted from the pulpit. Whenever there was a call for a response to the Lord, I found myself praying prayers such as, “God, show me Your glory,” or “Make me a man after your heart.”
There is an inner compass within the soul; prayer points us to the True North that leads us toward His purposes and will in our lives.
Looking at what I am doing today in the house of prayer, modelling it after the tabernacle of David, I am confident and convinced that God heard my prayer – and that my prayers shape me. I prayed biblical prayers, and His Word and His will formed me.
There is an inner compass within the soul; prayer points us to the True North that leads us toward His purposes and will in our lives. Not only do our prayers lead us towards His intentions and will, but it also strengthens our inner man to stay on the course of our journey towards our destination – to finish the race strong.
The Apostle Paul prayed for the Church in Ephesus that God would strengthen their inner man. Instead of being shaken by his suffering, that they may be rooted and grounded in love for the sake of the generations to come, giving them courage and confidence in the love of Christ.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14- 21)
Sometimes, the answer and the breakthrough that we are looking for in our circumstances may not necessarily be found in God’s miraculous intervention, but a divine partnership through God’s invitation.
To be honest, our human inclination naturally steers towards contending for God’s supernatural intervention because we want an instant result with no cost. But divine partnership requires us to go through the process with a price. Most of the time we are changed in the process more than the circumstances are, and the answer is found in the transformation that God did in us.
Christians in the first century faced tremendous pressure and persecution for their claim in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the midst of that intense pressure, God empowered the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of His resurrection through signs, wonders, and miracles (Mark 16:20).
The pressure and tension stemmed from a legislation passed by the Roman Empire about the usage of the name of Jesus. That led to an earth-shaking prayer meeting in Acts 4 when Peter and John were imprisoned for using that Name – the Church were fearful.
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)
Instead of praying for the persecution to cease, they responded to the Lord by asking Him to grant them boldness to speak the Word. In fact, the persecution in Jerusalem did not subside but intensified as we read on a few chapters after Acts 4. James and Stephen were killed for preaching the gospel, yet their courage and boldness gave the church strength to stay true to their witness which is the main assignment of the Church.
Persecution was part of the package. As Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matt 5:10-12).
Perhaps God allows us to experience difficult situations and circumstances so we can cry out to Him, be refined and shaped by Him into the image of Christ – the answer to all problems in this broken world.
And the truth is that some will embrace Him and some will reject Him, but our posture is to stay true to Him and share the gospel. Your life is shaped by your prayers, and as God refines you, a more Christlike you becomes the answer to your prayers.
This article was first published on Jason’s blog, and is republished with permission.