Prayer: Your Power Connection
Written by Dr. Phil Briggs
This article is courtesy of Living with Teenagers magazine.
Connecting the dots is a current cliche’ about how we are to get our lives together. It is a good piece of advice, and what a wonderful imagery about our spiritual journey also. To gain wisdom and strength for the challenges of life, it just makes sense to connect with the power source, Jesus Christ. Jesus set the example for us by maintaining His connection to His Father. Jesus had an attitude of prayer—constantly in tune with God—constantly dependent upon God. He often withdrew to lonely places where He could pray (Luke 5:16).
After a night of prayer, Jesus established the church by calling out His disciples (Luke 6:12-15). Jesus was foremost a teacher. He taught informally by example, but His verbal illustrations and teachings encouraged a relationship with God through prayer. In the Sermon on the Mount He highlighted three important elements of prayer:
1. Prayer is our approach to God.
2. Prayer is God’s approach to us.
3. Prayer is receiving from God.
Jesus often prayed for Himself and for others. The will of His Father was His primary focus and He depended on constant communication with His father to stay in His will and to be obedient.
Another excellent example of the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus was the garden of Gethsemane experience (Matt. 26:36-44) where He repeatedly told His disciples to pray with Him. Jesus spent hours in intense prayer in order to have the strength to glorify God with His forthcoming actions and in order to be obedient and follow through with the enormous task ahead of Him.
In John 17 we get a glimpse of the heart of Jesus and the relationship that He had with God the Father by reading the prayer of Jesus. This prayer alone should encourage us to seek a deeper relationship with God through prayer.
Encouragement to Pray
The Scripture is clear with many directives for us to pray. Jesus told the apostles a parable on the need to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
Jesus emphasized the results of prayer when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened ... If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7-8,11)
Paul knew the importance of prayer and encouraged Christians to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). James encouraged believers to use prayer as a way to draw near to God (Jas. 4:8). There is a real need today for families to develop their prayer lives and to move away from their preoccupation with themselves and the outside influences that steal their time and effectiveness.
The God of the Bible is a personal being who bids us to ask in order to receive and grow in our relationship with Him. Jesus knew the importance of prayer and of being connected to His Father in order to fulfill God’s purpose for His life. The disciples saw the evidence of of a fervent prayer life in Jesus. They must have wanted the same kind of relationship with God that Jesus had, so they asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Consider the following steps of prayer for your family based on the elements in the prayer of Jesus.
Power of Prayer
Paul often instructed the churches to pray with purpose. In Ephesians 4:14-19, he listed the various purposes for prayer:
1. To derive the riches of the Heavenly Father.
2. To gain strength in your inner being and receive God’s power for living.
3. To open your heart to God’s presence.
4. To be grounded in God’s love.
5. To understand the many dimensions of God’s love.
6. To express thanksgiving and praise to God.
7. To confess sin and express dependence upon God for grace and forgiveness.
8. To petition God for needs.
Paul prayed that believers would receive and recognize the power and strength of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Read Paul’s prayer for spiritual empowerment: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him” (Eph. 3:16-17, NLT).
Many families, especially those with teens, are familiar today with emails and chat rooms where you enter into a conversation electronically with others. Prayer is a great example of instant messaging with God. Prayer is not a one way-conversation, but an active involvement with God.
I personally claim the biblical promise from Romans 8:26-27 that the Spirit will pray in our behalf. Do you need evidence of the power of prayer? Read James 5:13-16: “Are any of you suffering? They should keep on praying about it . . . Are any of you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray . . . And the prayer offered in faith will heal . . . and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven . . . The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (NLT).
Parents, we should recognize how God has acted and is still acting on our behalf through genuine prayer. We need to be filled with the Spirit and power of Christ so that our children can see God’s love in and through us. We need to live daily in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Our children need to see us overcoming the challenges of daily life with the power of God. I encourage you to connect the dots in your life through prayer.
Dr. Phil Briggs is professor emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a frequent writer and conference leader for parents of teens and youth ministers.