For many years I was convinced that the main purpose of prayer was for our own benefit and growth. Prayer changes the person who prays. While I still believe that is a significant element of prayer, and something that is true of all the spiritual disciplines, a closer look at what scripture says about prayer has made me rethink and expand some of my beliefs about prayer.
First, prayer can change our circumstances. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, the servant expresses his anxiety and fears of failure. However, Abraham requires him to make an oath that he will find a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s relatives. The servant obediently takes the oath, but turns to God for help.
- Read Genesis 24:12-27.
- Reflect on the simplicity and specificity of this prayer.
- What does this tell you about God?
Secondly, prayer can change us. Whenever the holy touches the unholy, change takes place. Whenever grace touches the heart, transformation occurs. One cannot truly accept the grace of a forgiving God without a change of heart by which we then are compelled to extend that grace to others.
- Read 2 Chronicles 33:1-16.
- Reflect on the kind of person Manasseh was before he humbled himself before God.
- What changed occurred?
- How do you find yourself responding to this change?
Finally, prayer can change the world. Prayer keeps us, individually and as the Body of Christ, focused on the things that matter. Corporate prayer in particular, reminds us that we are Christ’s ambassadors in the world, bringing light into the darkness, conquering evil by the love of Christ.
- Read Colossians 1:3-14.
- Highlight the words that express the outcomes of prayer.
- Reflect on the impact that such power and wisdom could have on a global level.