You Need to Know the Problem with Saying -“Power of Prayer”

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Did you know there is a problem with saying, "The power of prayer?" Click here to learn why there might be a better way to talk about prayer...

I don’t believe there is any power in my prayers. I don’t believe in the power of prayer.

Please don’t worry about my faith or my prayer-life. I just don’t believe the power is in my prayers.

I believe the power is in the One to whom I pray.

Let’s take a look at two Bible references – one Old Testament and one New.

Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:16–39; where Elijah challenged the prophets to a pray-off.

Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed. v. 22–24

You know the rest. The prophets of Baal shouted, cried, and cut themselves all day and nothing happened. Finally, it was Elijah’s turn:

At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel . . . Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. v. 36, 38

 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—He is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” v. 39

James said:

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results James 5:16 (NLT)

Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective. (GW)

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (NASB)

You and I are righteous by God’s grace . . . not because of anything we do or say but because He is loving and forgiving. Because of Jesus. 

Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12

[Tweet “Any power given to prayer is a gift from God.”]

Did you know there is a problem with saying, The power of prayer Click here to learn why there might be a better way to talk about prayer...

The Problems with Saying the “Power of Prayer”

The problem is in the communicating—in the danger of misinterpretation. Because:

1. If the power is in the prayer, it doesn’t matter who we pray to . . . God, Allah, Buddha, Ancestors, Saints, the sun, or other idols.

As a follower of Jesus, I want people to know I pray to the Father who hears my prayers because I come to Him in the name of His Son and my Savior, Jesus.

2. If the power is in the prayer, there is a danger of thinking that better prayers give better results.

As a follower of Jesus, I want the Lord to receive all the glory. I don’t want to elevate those who look better, speak eloquently, or are more charismatic.

3. If the power is in the prayer, there is a temptation to fear that an unanswered prayer is the result of weak faith.

As a follower of Jesus, I want to daily trust and grow in faith trusting God’s goodness and love to always answer my prayers with His best.

4. If the power is in the prayer, there is a danger we will take pride in answered prayers.

As a follower of Jesus, I want my daily prayer to be . . . less of me and more of Him. I want to be able to say with humble trust, “Your will be done.”

I know what you mean when we’ve talked about the power of prayer. As followers of Jesus, you want all the same things I want. I just wonder if people who aren’t Jesus followers understand.

My heart’s desire is to proclaim Him. To pray without ceasing to the Father in the name of the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Please come back tomorrow for more on the Holy Spirit and prayer.

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10 thoughts on “You Need to Know the Problem with Saying -“Power of Prayer”

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I feel this way, but haven\’t managed to put it into words as well as you have done here. It can be a touchy subject and I\’m so glad you tackled it!

    1. Thanks for your kind encouragement Leanne. I’m thankful it blessed you. I can’t start to rant when I have strong feelings about something. So thankful Rev is able to talk me down and help me speak gently. Blessings!

  2. I love how you laid all this out, Deb; we can get wrapped up in the act of praying and not realize we’ve actually taken our focus off the very One to whom we pray! I’ll remember that the power of prayer resides in the Lord.
    Blessings!

    1. My prayer is that everything in my life is always and ever about Jesus. I fail terribly, but I will by His grace never stop making it my heart’s desire. Thanks and blessings Martha!

  3. I feel so strongly about this Deb. I see it in someone saying, “My church is…” Who’s church? Or “I won that person to the Lord.” Who did? I feel that way about someone who claims to be a faith healer and stops no credit being given to him. I know it is somewhat picky but it is important to not take credit where credit is not due and belongs to someone else (HIM). Good word Deb.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement Bill. I once went up for prayer during a season of infertility. I was so hopeful until the teacher added, “Are you sure you want this? I’m really good.” This person’s ministry has blessed many and I’m sure it was her way of encouraging me, but it did just the opposite. I guess the best way of stating it is the realization that the power never comes from the conduit. For me that’s what we are when we pray, conduits connecting to the One who alone has the power and the wisdom to use it for our good and His glory. Thanks again. I always appreciate your comments.

  4. This is a thought provoking post, Deb. I want to be like the person in Thessalonians 5:17, one who prays to the Father unceasingly, trusting fully in His power, might and ability. Yet so often when we don’t see the hoped for result of our prayers, we look at our faults instead of His providence
    I am resting in this idea a lot lately, thinking about His providence and His Yes and Amen answers.
    The reality is that He is always GOOD, and because of that I can fully trust Him and His answer to my every prayer.

    1. Unceasing trusting prayer. Amen! I just read Jen Avellaneda’s post where she talks about just sitting in His presence to hear His voice. How I want to listen and hear the voice of my Shepherd. To slow down and get quiet before Him without agenda or formula. Enjoy a blessing-filled day Dawn.

  5. Deb, you speak super wise words here. I love the mis-guided thoughts you can have around prayer. We always have such an inclination to get prideful, don’t we? Thank you for setting my heart straight. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.

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