Prayer is one of the most important and powerful aspects of our relationship with God, yet it can also be one of the most challenging. At some point, most of us have wrestled with questions like:
- How do I keep praying when I am discouraged, or when it doesn’t seem like God is answering my prayers?
- How do I really let go of fear and anxiety through prayer?
- How do you find the strength and love to devote your life to helping others?
Prayer was one of the central themes at this 2014’s Expo, Imagine. Faithful and honest prayer is an essential part of living a visionary life and understanding the purposes of God. Take a look below for a recap of three of the weekend’s key convictions about prayer:
1. God initiates prayer
After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants[a] as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”
God initiates prayer. When we think that prayer is just something we “should do,” or when we think praying is too difficult and emotional, we often don’t do it. But in this scripture we see that when we are going through a confusing or difficult time in life, God wants to talk to us. He wants to encourage us and help us understand his purposes in what we are going through.
How does it change your view of prayer to realize that God wants to talk to you, and he will help you understand his promises and purposes of God for your life?
2. God uses waiting time to initiate prayer
You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”
Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
How does God initiate prayer? In this scripture Abraham was going through a time of waiting; his prayers and desires for a child had not yet been answered by God. Waiting is one of the most difficult things to handle spiritually. Sometimes, when the waiting seems too long, we can let our discouragement lead us away from God.
But God uses these very times to talk to us. Abraham had an honest conversation with God, telling him how discouraged he was, and God spoke back. Abraham had two choices: believe God or settle for despair. He chose to believe God.
Have you settled in any area of your life because the waiting has been too long? In relationships with your family, in dating, marriage, or career?
3. Our prayers are powerful
Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”
Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
Genesis 18:27-28, 31-32
How much do you wrestle in prayer for other people? Abraham had already received incredible promises from God about the future of his own descendants; he could have been satisfied with knowing that he and his family were secure and left others to fend for themselves. But he didn’t – instead, Abraham began begging God to save people he didn’t even know.
How often do you beg God on behalf of other people? Our prayers are powerful. As God told Abraham, ten righteous people would be enough to save a whole city.
Decide today to begin praying about your neighbors, friends and community. What good could God do through you? Why did he allow you to live where you live? What impact does he want you to make on the world or neighborhood around you?