The Effectiveness and Power of Prayer
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when talking about the importance and power of prayer. Like James said, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” Some translations add that prayer “is powerful in what it can achieve” (James 5:16). Yet, many times we find prayer to be difficult because of the unrealistic expectations we have for it. We pray and anticipate results right away, hoping God will work on our own terms. When our expectations fall short, our reaction might resemble that of a child in candy shop who cries in disappointment when their parents fail to meet their demands, feeling unloved and uncared for in that moment.
Some people unfortunately stray away from the Lord for similar reasons—they feel unloved and uncared for, even when that is far from the truth. Just because a parent in the toy or candy shop said “no” doesn’t mean “I don’t love you anymore.” Likewise, our Lord may not answer us immediately but He loves us, hears our prayers, and responds to them accordingly.
“The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” - James 5:16
In the Gospel of Luke, a disciple asked the Lord Jesus saying, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Several questions come to mind when I think of this passage. Did this disciple ask his questions in order to know how to ask God for things? Was John the Baptist referenced with the idea of learning how to be more effective and powerful in praying like Jesus? Or was the question asked simply to learn what prayer is? Did it mean, teach us to pray effectively and powerfully? Jesus responded by teaching the “Lord’s Prayer,” imparting that such prayer is about having a relationship with the Almighty God.
I’ve learned how effective and powerful prayer can make a difference in our lives. For example, when dating or engaged, prayer establishes a strong foundation for the future couple, especially when practiced early on in their relationship. Today, many people, including Christians, fail to build their relationship with prayer at the forefront. Praying together not only bonds couples, it essentially draws them closer to their Creator—establishing the relationship Jesus talked about in Luke.
In other instances, it is common for some people to pray to God for a husband or wife, only to stop praying when that person has been found. Rather than stop praying, we should be encouraged to maintain our relationship with God, and also pray for our partners to join us in prayers. While it might be difficult to find time and a place to pray with our partners, doing so is paramount because, as we have already learned, “Prayer is effective and powerful.”
Discussion Questions: Sometimes it seems or feels like our prayers are not being heard or answered. How do you overcome the feeling of disappointment when prayer seems to go unanswered? How can we encourage others to continue praying despite the feeling of disappointment?