Some Thoughts on the Phrase, “The Power of Prayer”

I am very much in favor of prayer, lots of it, and the last thing I would ever want to do would be to demean those who laud “the power of prayer.”  I know what they (most of them) mean by this expression, and I believe their hearts are in the right place.  But words have meanings.  It matters what we actually say, not JUST what we mean.

Is there power in prayer or is the power in the One Who answers our prayers?  I vote for the latter. Prayer, when it is supplication for necessities, is nothing more nor less than a matter of asking.  Should we speak of the great power in asking or should we glorify the One Who responds.  Again, I vote for the latter.  I doubt if anyone who uses the phrase, “power of prayer,” intends to take the focus off our wonderful heavenly Father and divert it to himself and what he does, but that is the effect whether intended or not.  The power is not in our ability to ask, but in our Father’s ability to provide, so let’s say so rather than speak as though WE are doing something great by praying, asking. The honor and glory should always go to Him, not us.

I’m guessing that some of you will think I’m being a bit nit-picky here, but there is a difference between being nit-picky and pointing out a subtle distinction with significant ramifications.  There are people, unfortunately, who literally believe that there is power in prayer.  I was listening to a man on Christian talk radio recently who spoke of a great prayer meeting he was involved in.  They were praying for some specific need.  There were 50 of them together and they were praying with such fervency!  The man spoke of what prayer power there was in that room with so many of them praying like that.  He knew that their prayer power was going directly to the need and fixing the situation. In all his description of the incident, God was never mentioned.  I guess when you have prayer power like that you can take care of things yourself.  God doesn’t really have to be involved.

I was once involved in a Christian organization in which the members were constantly talking about believing for something.  I’m believing for this, or I’m believing for that.  Granted, believing, trusting, God is a requirement if we are to see miraculous answers to our prayers, but it is still us doing the asking and God doing the giving, providing the answers, the power.  It is not a matter of us appropriating something by the power of our believing.

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

We are trusting our heavenly Father to provide, not directing the force.

I saw a bumper sticker recently, “Prayer Changes Things.” Really?  Does prayer change things or does God change things when we ask Him?  I wonder how many other nice sounding religious phrases people have succumbed to that really only divert attention away from our loving heavenly Father and place it upon ourselves. Can you think of any others?

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