Steve was a new believer who attended our singles ministry at Immanuel Alliance Church in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Steve’s wife had recently left him, and due to some medical issues and medication he was taking that impaired his senses, he had lost his job as a truck driver. He was clearly in need of prayer.
During prayer time at our Thursday night Bible study, I began to pray aloud for Steve. My prayer started out normally. I simply lifted up Steve’s needs. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly close to Steve, so my prayers were not born out of deep love or concern but rather out of the thought, Uh oh, someone better pray for Steve’s need. Sometime during the prayer, passion took over.
Because it was more than 20 years ago now, I don’t remember any specifics of what I prayed. But because it was such a profound and rare experience for me, I can remember clearly what I was thinking and feeling throughout the prayer.
I recall that my spirit got so caught up in praying for Steve that I didn’t even know what I was praying. I remember a strange but pleasant sensation within my body and feeling my mind so riveted on the prayer it was like I was staring at the situation and couldn’t pull away. I remember others pitching in comments of agreement as I prayed. About halfway through my prayer, an unusual thought entered my head: I’m not praying; the Holy Spirit is praying within me.
After the prayer, Steve immediately came over and hugged me—for longer than I was comfortable. He had sensed something unusual too.
Because I left that group a few months later, I don’t know what ultimately happened to Steve’s marriage; I do know his job situation resolved soon after that night.
What made that prayer so powerful? So unusual? Did I do something special? No! While I can’t fully know for sure what did happen, I believe that my prayer for Steve brought together so many of the elements of effective prayer.
First, I was pure before the Lord. This was during the time when I was working on the A. W. Tozer project and was immersed in The Pursuit of God. I was hungry for God; I was delighting in God; I was experiencing God in deeper ways than I had ever experienced before.
Second, while I didn’t have a strong relationship with Steve, I could relate to his pain. My divorce had been finalized only months before. As I prayed, my own pain reemerged. That led to a release of my emotions—usually bottled up when I prayed in public.
Third, everything I prayed was fully in line with God’s will. God did not desire Steve’s marriage to break up. God fought for the brokenhearted, the poor and downcast, the one who was being treated unfairly. To pray for restoration of Steve’s marriage and job was fully in harmony with God’s will.
Fourth, my thought of the Holy Spirit praying through me was in a sense very accurate. I have no doubt that I was praying what I “ought to pray for” (Romans 8:26). I was in some way caught up in the “groans that words cannot express” that the Spirit prays.
Finally, it was a prayer of faith—the key to it all. I believed perhaps more than I had believed anything in my life that God was going to do something special in Steve’s life. Steve was a new believer, and the Lord was going to prove Himself to Steve. Steve needed a miracle, and God was going to provide one. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.
PRAYING IN FAITH
James tells us that God answers “the prayer offered in faith” (5:15). Earlier in his book, James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt” (1:5-6, emphasis added).
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him why they couldn’t drive out a particular demon possessing a little boy, He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
Above all else, it is the prayer of faith that God honors. All of the principles of prayer are pointless without this one undergirding them all.
Why do we need to develop a relationship with God through prayer? The more we know Him, the more we trust Him, the more faith will grow within us.
How are we involved in seeing God’s will released on earth if not through prayers of faith? We believe that our prayers can and do make a difference in this world, so we keep praying.
How do we keep going amid fears that our prayers are weak, feeble, and ineffective? Faith. We believe God’s Word when it says both the Holy Spirit and Jesus are interceding when we don’t know what to pray. Faith tells us our prayers are amounting to something, even when we doubt.
What allows us to communicate with God anywhere? Faith. Faith to believe that God is with us always.
It takes faith to believe God hears and will respond. It takes faith to believe that we are victorious over the evil one and that we have access to all authority!
Every aspect of prayer involves faith!
God wants to commune with you. Believe it! God wants to use you in awesome ways to further His kingdom. Pray for it! He wants to make a prayer warrior out of you. Accept it by faith.
If you are still struggling, still unsure of this prayer thing, then I invite you to pray a simple prayer. It is the same prayer a scared, frustrated father cried out to Jesus after being told, “Everything is possible for him who believes”:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)
Enjoy the ride!
–Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network and the director of Love2Pray. This blog is adapted from his book The Power of Personal Prayer (PrayerShop Publishing 2021).
If you purchase this book through prayershop.org use code love2pray at checkout to save an additional $2.00 off each copy ordered.
If you would like to read more about faith, I encourage you to check out Prayer Connect Issue 18: Faith and Prayer. If you have Love2Pray membership, your password works at prayerleader.com/magazine to give you access to all the articles.
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