Prayer is a game changer

The chorus of the old song said, “Talk about me as much as you please; I’ll talk about you down on my knees.” We need to talk to men about God and talk to God about men. Any fool can gossip; men and women of God are called to pray. I was reminded of those ideas last week as I studied Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, where he told the young pastor to make sure “… that supplications, prayer, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” Make sure the church is praying, Timothy, and make sure they are praying for all men. I remember when my children were little, their prayers went something like this: “Lord, help us to have a good time today and not to fight, and I love you. Amen.” That was fine for a 3- or 4-year-old, but just a tad narrow, wouldn’t you say? Now that I think about it, though, maybe more adults should pray that God would help them not to fight. But that’s a different column.
As my children got older, their prayers became larger, more expansive, and they began to pray for others outside their family. That’s the idea here. Prayer is powerful, so we must not limit it. Prayer can be a game changer because the One to whom we are praying is not limited in his might and is not limited in his desire to bless and heal and save.
John Stott wrote about his visit to a village church in England years ago: “The pastor was absent on holiday, and a lay elder led the pastoral prayer. He prayed that the pastor might enjoy a good vacation, which was fine, and that two lady members of the congregation might be healed, which was also fine; we should pray for the sick. But that was all.
The intercession can hardly have lasted thirty seconds. I came away saddened, sensing that this church worshiped a little village god of their own devising. There was no recognition of the needs of the world, and no attempt to embrace the world in prayer.” When I heard that story I was a bit convicted because, though we spend time praying together as a church every Sunday and in our home groups every Wednesday, we do not pray enough for those in authority in our state or nation. We do not embrace the world in prayer as we ought.
Pray for all men, Paul says. Then he really raises the stakes by saying we must pray for “kings and all who are in authority.” We could translate that as Americans to “Presidents and Governors and all who are in authority.” Believers, how many of us show by our prayers that we believe in the power of prayer and we truly believe the Bible that says, “the heart of the king (and the President) is in the hand of the Lord”?
Prayer is powerful because God is powerful. When Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” He invited us into game-changing, even kingdom-changing, prayer. He gave us a tool for child raising that is without equal: Only God can change our children’s hearts, and our prayers are invited into that process. He gave us a tool for culture-change that is without equal: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, working through praying and godly believers, is the most powerful force in the world.
So, talk about me as much as you please. Especially if you are talking to God about me. Prayer is a game changer.

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