Tomorrow, May 7th, is National Day of Prayer. Its purpose is to encourage Americans to look to “the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men” (National Day of Prayer Taskforce, 2015, Theme and Verse).
The National Day of Prayer theme this year is “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day” (I Kings 8:28).
As I have established in The Secret of Prayer, Part I and The Secret of Prayer, Part II, prayer is liberating and empowering, but why should you pray?
You should pray to open the door for divine interventions.
My knowledge and experience with prayer has been based on the Bible. John 9:1-3 offers one of the best explanations for why we should pray:
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
Instead of playing the blame game, see your challenges as opportunities for God to intervene. My parents taught my siblings and me how to pray bedtime prayers, grace before meals, and the Lord’s Prayer. But one of my first heart-felt prayers was during a time when my husband and I wanted to have another child, and we could not. I called—believe it or not—The 700 Club Prayer Center. Within a month, I was pregnant. It was not until after I gave birth to my son that my doctor told me about a medical condition I did not know I had. All the doctor could say was that I was lucky. I knew better. It was because I asked God to intervene, and when He did, my life changed. My belief in the power of prayer increased. Today, I volunteer in a ministry that has a 24 hour prayer center that people can reach by phone.
Praying is not difficult if you keep the following in mind:
Pray with honesty.
One of the pinnacles of prayer is that you must forgive before you ask for what you need and/or desire. So, ask for forgiveness for inappropriate actions and thoughts and for not doing what you knew you should have done.
Sometimes you don’t even know what to say or how to say it. So, just say what is in your heart. This can be as simple as Iyanla Vansant’s prayer:
(OWN TV, September 14, 2012)
Praying with honesty means that when you do know exactly what you need, be specific.
Perhaps you need a little help like I did when I called The 700 Club Prayer Center almost 30 years ago. I wasn't sure if I had enough faith. I wasn't even sure of what I should say. So, I enlisted the help of someone whom I thought could help me.
Pray with confidence.
You pray because you have some degree of belief that you will get what you ask for. So, go all the way with it. Thank God in advance. Thanksgiving is a product of believing, and sometimes it will even generate a little joy.
But, be honest. One comforting passage I have had to rely on when my belief was not as strong as I would like is about a father who asked Jesus to help his unbelief:
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:23-24
To strengthen your confidence, I recommend reading about answered prayers in the Bible and talking with people who have experienced answered prayer. I increase my confidence in God by looking all around me. The world is so exquisitely made, that I cannot explain it with The Theory of Evolution nor can I explain it with The Big Bang Theory.
Pray with humility.
Mother Teresa said it best:
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Prayer is communication. When you talk, God listens. When God talks, you should listen.
So, here’s the third secret of prayer: Prayer is life-changing. The visually impaired man in John 9:6-8 was able to see after Jesus healed him:
“When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?”
Because God answered my prayer, My husband and I were able to have another child. This was life-changing. Not only did we have another child, but also I was awakened to the supernatural. My life has never been the same. I believe in divine interventions. I also remind my son of how his birth came to be.
Nevertheless, some prayers go unanswered, but these experiences are also life-changing. They make you examine yourself and your motives:
- Did I confess my sins?
- Was I humble?
- Was my prayer honest?
- Were my motives pure?
- Did I forgive?
- Do I believe?
- Did I confess my unbelief?
- Was I specific?
- Was I thankful?
Because God does not limit how many times we can pray to Him, if you believe you are in error, make things right, and pray again remembering this:
"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" Psalms 103:8-14.
Get started with prayer by participating in the National Day of Prayer. Pray for our nation, particularly those in authority.
Then establish a habit of prayer by regularly praying for the world, our nation, your loved ones, and yourself. It doesn't matter where you pray--the car, closet, office, school, outside, bathroom, church, restaurant--just pray and inspire others to pray.
How has prayer changed your life?This is the story in you. Share it.
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National Day of Prayer Task Force. (2015). National day of prayer. Retrieved from http://nationaldayofprayer.org/
OWN TV. (September 14, 2012). Iyanla Vanzant's 3 personal prayers super soul Sunday. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZULiUuo9BA