Contender Ministries

It was getting close to 1:00 am before Jen and I finally went to bed.  Falling asleep has never been a problem for me, but sleep often eluded Jen during particularly busy times with the ministry.  During each of the previous four nights, she would lie down to sleep, only to have her mind filled with unfinished business and plans for the next day.  Invariably, she would get out of bed and be awake until her body finally crashed between four and five o’clock in the morning.  Needless to say, she was physically and emotionally exhausted.  So this particular night, Jen asked me to lay hands on her and pray for her to get some rest.  I was happy to oblige, so I laid a hand on her head and went to the Lord in prayer.  After about two minutes of praising God and asking for the Holy Spirit to give peace and rest to Jen, I said a quiet “Amen,” and opened my eyes.  Jen was snoring quietly, and slept hard for the next eight hours. 

I wonder why it sometimes takes us so long to remember to turn to God in prayer.  Prayer is the most powerful tool God has given us.  Think about it for a moment.  Almighty God, Creator of the universe, Master of all life, Controller of all natural and physical laws, the omnipotent Lord who was, and is, and is to come, has an open-door policy, and actually invites us to talk with Him.  Through prayer, we are able to confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, and submit to salvation through Jesus Christ.  Through prayer, we can heal and be healed.  Through prayer, we can encourage and be encouraged.  Through prayer, we can fight back the attacks of Satan and his band of demons.  Through prayer, we can do anything. 

God spoke to Jeremiah and said, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know,” (Jeremiah 33:3).  What an awe-inspiring passage!  Reading that verse always makes my heart skip a beat.  This isn’t a promise only to one of the great prophets, though.  James tells us to “come near to God and He will come near to you,” (James 4:8).  Through prayer, we are able to be closer to Almighty God than to anyone or anything else on this earth!  This is an amazing and humbling gift!

What can we pray for?  The Bible tells us to pray for healing (James 5:16), for wisdom (James 1:5), and for peace of mind (Philippians 4:6).  We are even told to go beyond these, and to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” (Ephesians 6:18)!  Granted, we must not confuse God with Santa Claus, but we are not restricted in the requests we present to God.  Accompanying this is another wonderful promise.  In Mark 11:24, Jesus tells us, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

At times, it can be hard to pray.  Sometimes we harbor sinful thoughts that can interfere.  In Mark 11:25, Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Immediately after telling us to “come near to God,” in James 4:8, James tells us, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  Pride can inhibit prayer (Matthew 6:5), as can a lack of faith (Mark 11:24, James 1:6).  Some people interpret Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 6:5-6 as a prohibition against praying in public.  This conclusion misses the mark.  Jesus was warning us not to be prideful or showy with our prayers.  Our words are not the most important part of the prayer, and can often get in the way if we are focusing on how we sound to others, rather than on what we’re saying to God.  He knows our heart and soul, and knows what we need before we even ask! 

Sometimes, I find my mind is so cluttered, it’s hard to find a starting point in my prayer with God.  It’s often difficult to take the swarm of worries, troubles, praise, thanks, and concerns that fill my mind and present them in an orderly manner to God.  I found out I don’t have to.  I mentioned “praying in the Spirit” earlier.  This can also be accompanied by what some call “praying in tongues.”  I like to think of it as a broadband data dump to God.  In its essence, praying in the Spirit means not worrying about the words.  God knows your heart, so just open your heart and soul to the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him,” (Matthew 6:8).  That being said, if words are difficult in coming, don’t worry about the words!  God knows your heart, and He knows your needs.  Open your heart and soul to God, and let the Holy Spirit do the talking for you!

James said, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” (James 5:16).  Remember God’s words to Jeremiah, “Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  Prayer can move mountains, if we have faith (Mark 11:23).  Knowing how we should pray is important, but it is equally important to know “when” to pray.  The answer to this is clearly and explicitly defined in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually.”

Jen and I have both witnessed God working miracles in our lives through prayer.  He has given us inspiration, where previously there was none.  He has healed us from physical afflictions on more than one occasion.  He has stilled our hearts and minds, and imparted His peace on our souls.  We have felt the unmistakable presence of the Holy Spirit when we’ve humbled ourselves before God.  Yes, prayer is powerful, and I intend to “pray continually.”


Contender Ministries