Power in Prayer

Posted May 22, 2008


Perhaps 99 out of every 100 Christians, when they pray, set their mind simply to ask God for something. They may be asking God for a healing, a job, a happy marriage, a favorable lab report from a cancer test, etc. Certainly the prayer of petition (sometimes called impetration), is authentic prayer, for it expresses our creatural God-dependency and is mentioned numerous times in God’s word. Jesus specifically enjoins us to ask: “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt.7: 7).

Yet, truly prayerful petition should involve far more than just asking the Lord for favors. It should draw our hearts into agreement with the will of God and entail a willingness to accept God’s will for us in the very things we ask for. It’s not a matter of trying to “change God,” for he is unchangeable (Num. 23:19); it’s ultimately a matter of changing ourselves. In the words of Ralph Martin, “Prayer ‘succeeds’ when it melts into commitment and obedience; it fails when it is treated as a recital of our needs in an attempt to entice God to act.” These four talks show how the real power of prayer is in empowering the petitioner.

John H., C.M.F.