How God Uses Prayer
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I cannot change the world.
You cannot change the world.
Even prayer alone doesn’t change the world.
Only God can change the world!
However, God uses prayer to change us, and then God uses us to change our world.
Let God Talk
My meeting had finished early, and I left the group and headed to a soft chair on the other side of the room. It was January, and I was in South Florida for a board meeting (a great place to be that time of year if you live in Chicago!). I reached into my computer bag and pulled out my journal and Bible. After spending some time reading and reflecting, my routine was to first write the word “B.L.E.S.S.” and then list the people for whom I would simply pray for a few minutes.
Next, I drew a straight black line across the bottom of the page in my journal, paused, and then listened for God. This is how I’ve learned to pray every day. Drawing that horizontal line became a ritual that transitioned my mind from talking to God to listening to Him. Often when I listen, nothing comes to mind—but if something or someone does, I write it down.
That day this came to mind: “Ask Ron how he’s doing.” The question just popped into my head.
I hadn’t thought about Ron in weeks, but I knew he would be joining me for another meeting later in the day. I wrote “Ask Ron how he’s doing” in my journal.
About five minutes later, Ron walked into the room. He had decided to stop in early. I felt myself smiling. That was fast! I got up from my easy chair and crossed the room to greet him. .....
Reasons We Don’t Pray
Your adventure with God begins with prayer. But prayer is one of those things—like flossing or exercising or going to bed at a decent hour—that we know we should do but often don’t do.
Every time I go to the dentist, he asks me if I’m flossing regularly. I don’t want to tell him I’m not doing what I know I should do, so I say something like, “I’m flossing the same amount as the last time you asked me.” (It’s not a lie!)
Prayer can be like that for most of us. It’s something we know we should do, something we even want to do, but it can be hard to be consistent with it. Why is that? I can think of a lot of reasons.
“I don’t know how to pray.”
Sometimes we don’t pray because we don’t know how. Many of us learned to pray as children—mostly at meals and at bedtime. You know, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” Or “Yubba dub dub, thanks for the grub. Yay, God!” But how many people reach adulthood without any additional instruction? We know we should pray, but many of us aren’t sure how.
“I’m too busy.”
Sometimes we don’t pray because life is too busy. Let’s face it…prayer takes time, it takes focus, it takes energy, and many of us feel like we’re running short on all those things. Our busy lives crowd out a lot of things we know are important, and often that includes prayer.
“I doubt it works.”
And sometimes we don’t pray because we are not sure it works. Maybe you are thinking, I prayed, I really did, and it didn’t seem to make a difference. I’ve felt that way before. When we pray and nothing seems to happen, it makes it really difficult to keep on praying.
There are lots of reasons why we don’t pray, but I’m challenging you: if you want to change your neighborhood and change your world, you have to begin with prayer. Let me make this as clear as I can because what we are talking about is a very big deal! Your neighbors’ and friends’ lives and eternities are at stake! My experience is that when there is something really big and important at stake—like a tragedy—at that moment we all know how to pray! We definitely aren’t too busy to pray during a crisis. And our attitude in the moment is “Let’s see if it works.” So if nothing else, I encourage you to start there!
How to Begin with Prayer
Jesus is the One we follow. His whole life was a blessing to the world. Every place He went, every person He encountered experienced a “God moment” in His presence. Jesus lived out the B.L.E.S.S. practices in His daily life on Earth, and He did that by beginning with prayer.
I know it’s risky and can feel uncomfortable, but only God knows the impact you and I can make in someone’s life when we choose to be a B.L.E.S.S.ing. And it all begins with prayer.
In prayer, we focus our minds to recognize His promptings.
In prayer, we receive the direction we need to discover the people God is calling us to bless.
Hudson Taylor, a British missionary to China, said, “Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first all into harmony with Him.”
I love that! For us to love our neighbor we have to be in harmony with Him. That begins with prayer.
This is an excerpt for exclusive use by CBN from B.L.E.S.S: 5 Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World by Jon and Dave Ferguson (January 5, 2021; Salem Books).
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