Prayer is not an ointment. You don’t just rub it on when something is wrong.
Prayer is not a perfume. You don’t put it on to make the aroma of Christian life sweeter and more pleasing.
Prayer doesn’t “work” because it isn’t an application for problem solving or an item on a checklist for “proper function.”
Prayer is, rather, like the life-line for a complete blood transfusion. It’s an internally-intense, delicate, and aggressive means to changing life entirely. It’s an intentional practice of surrendering the body, spirit, and mind so the power of God can flow through to clear out infection and refill the emptiness with the blood of Life.
I don’t always feel like I know how to pray. Like the intravenous tube, so thin, tiny, and narrow, that carries blood into the body, my words typically feel feeble–small, thin, insignificant–carrying my prayers up to God. In fact, sometimes I don’t even know what words to pray, and I pray from a book–either straight from the Bible or from Germaine Copeland’s Prayers that Avail Much. Most times, my prayers dribble out like a rocky stream of consciousness, resembling the disjointed yet impassioned monologue of a four-year-old.
Thank God, though, it isn’t words that give power to prayer. It’s faith. I genuinely believe that God can and will answer me because my heart seeks to align with His. My words might be feeble, but it’s the power of my heart that pumps the power of God through the wordy life-line and into whomever or whatever I pray for in my devotion. How does that power work? I don’t know. It’s supernatural. The Holy Spirit, God in spirit form, lives inside my heart. When I drop my (natural) human control and trust the “thing” beyond my humanness to take over, that’s when the power of prayer takes place.
There is not a prayer too petty or prayer too challenging to lay before God. At the risk of making you squirmy, I am going to tell you a story.
Not too long ago I had a friend who was suicidal and had turned away from God. I was terrified for her physical life, and I was mourning the loss of her connection with Christ, because that spiritual life-line was imperative to keeping her alive. I prayed everyday that God would please show up in an obvious way to remind her that He was/is indeed with her and that she has purpose through Him.
One day, I sat down with my Copeland prayer book, and I prayed for her deliverance from Satan and his demonic forces (that topic needs a separate post on another day. If spiritual warfare makes you squirmy, I know. Just hang with me a minute, okay?) Praying against the dark forces is deep and dangerous. I soaked myself and my family and friends with prayers of protection. Then I stepped into the gap between my friend and God and prayed. I didn’t just say the words; I held up the words with the power of my heart–like a sword. I seethed against the dark dark forces that cloaked my friend’s view of God, and I used God’s Word–from the Bible–to fill my friend and protect her, to lift her back into the safety of the Lord’s hands and restore her faith. It was an intimate, intense, intercessory prayer time.
As the week wore on, my friend’s faith continued to wane. I confess: at times I wondered if my prayer would even “work”; I am human, so my natural tendency is to think that this spiritual stuff is all about me and my efforts. It isn’t. The second I would think that thought, a stronger sense came through, “I trust you, Lord. I know You will bring her back.”
Last Friday, my friend called me. She told me about the profound, intimate time she had with God that very day, which was humbling and powerful for her. She had been done with Him; she had been angry that people were even praying for her. That all changed on Friday, and the connection with Christ has been reforged. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.
Is she all better? No. She is still grieving, battling mental illness, and enduring the journey of deep healing. But the Life-line is reconnected and the process of spiritual transfusion can continue!
Did I do a happy dance and say, “My prayer worked! My prayer worked!” Nope. I got down on my knees and I prayed a tearful and joyful prayer of thanks–“Thank you for saving her, Lord. Thank you for catching her. Strengthen her bond with You. Thank you for answering my pleas. Thank you for answering her family’s pleas. You are faithful and miraculous. Wow!”
Prayer is not an ointment. We don’t apply it on our life to stop the itch of things uncomfortable. Prayer is the infusion line by which God’s power is pumped into our lives. It’s internal, delicate, and aggressive. Prayer doesn’t merely work; it’s literally the supernatural pathway for God to hear and respond into our lives .
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” John 5:14
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2