By: Rev. Billy Lim
Does prayer really make a difference? Does it matter whether we pray or not if God is omniscient and in control of all events in the world? Scripture consistently teaches us that prayer works – “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16B). Prayer certainly does change things; it changes us.
Prayer is a tool that God uses to accomplish His will on earth. It has meaning not because our own efforts make it work but because God gives it meaning. God does not need our prayer to accomplish His will and yet He chooses to work through our prayers to accomplish His will which begs the question: Why? Why would God who has ultimate power over His creation choose to work through our prayers?
If we don’t believe prayers will make a difference, we won’t pray. It is true that in the past we have prayed and not gotten the answer we had asked for. Just because God does not answer a prayer the way we desire does not mean prayer will not make a difference. For average people like us, It is not that prayer fixes everything or grants us whatever we ask for, but prayer makes a difference because God responds. The leaders of the Clapham Sect of the British social Reformers such as William Wilberforce, gave daily to three hours of prayer and organized Christians throughout the country to unite in special prayer before critical debates in Parliament. William Temple replied to his critics who regarded answered prayer as no more than coincidence. “When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t,”-David Watson (Called and Committed, p.83).
1. Prayer can make a difference among us through our growth.
In Col. 1:3-14, 4-12, Paul prays for believers especially for the understanding of God’s will, and for them to walk in a worthy manner: bearing fruit, growing spiritually, and being strengthened by the power of God. Prayer affects us and our growth in different areas.
Personally: Our personal and family life should grow as a result of spiritual growth of the people involved. Prayer changes us and keeps us dependent on God, focused on His priorities and seeking His will.
Corporately: in our church where there is spiritual growth, we need to pray before we act and while we act as a church to carry out the work God has given us to do. Jesus and Paul took the time to PRAY. If anybody shouldn’t have to pray it would be them. However, both knew the value of spending time with the Father, deepening their relationship with Him and depending on Him for everything.
2. Prayer can make a difference among the rest of the world through the spread of the good news of Christ.
In Col. 1:6, ‘all over the world’ the Gospel of Christ was making a difference. In Col. 4:3-4, Paul requested prayer for the ability to communicate the Gospel effectively. The Gospel was designed to make a difference, to change people’s lives through their experience of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
How to pray in order to make a difference :
1. Start with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and a recognition of dependence go together for in Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God”.
2. Believe in the power of God and in the goodness of God. In Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but give Him up for us all – how will He also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”
3. Confess any unconfessed sin, for in Psalm 66:16-20 says, “Come and listen, all you who fear God, let me tell you what He has done for me, I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my lips. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, but God has surely listened, and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me.”
4. Labor in prayer. Epaphras labored, struggled, wrestled in prayer for the Colossians (Col. 4:12). It requires self-discipline. On the surface, prayer seems so easy, but in reality it is difficult. The spiritual forces of wickedness will seek to prevent you from praying. Precisely because it is so awesome in power.
5. Pray specifically, Make a list and pray for specific people and needs. Take the time to record the answers to prayer.
Let us then, personally and corporately as a church, exercise this ministry of prayer so that we can see God making a difference in the lives of our people in our church as well as in our family. To God be the glory.