“Teach us to pray!” The disciples had been watching Jesus for some time when they asked him this. They must have noticed his prayers had power; they worked.
Most folks don’t actually see a lot of results when they pray; they get discouraged and come to some terrible conclusions about their spiritual life or God’s heart towards them. We’ll be honest with you—some prayers work, others don’t, and there is a reason why.
Some prayers just happen; they are “the cry of the heart.” No training needed when it comes to this kind of prayer. We’ve uttered it thousands of times. Bet you have, too. Like when the phone rings and the bad news starts to spill and all you can do is say, Father…Father…Father, your heart crying out to God. It’s a good kind of prayer, rising from the deep places in us, often unbidden, always welcome to his loving ears.
But most people get stuck there, which is kind of like ending your education somewhere around fourth grade. There is more.
The other kind of prayer is far more intentional, where we take up sword and shield and start making an impact through strong, determined prayer. We call this kind “the prayer of intervention.” Meaning we are intervening. Men and women were meant to rule the earth, and though we royally screwed up our first pass at that, God didn’t switch to Plan B. He intervened in and through Jesus of Nazareth to restore us as sons and daughters and put us back in the action. “Rule and subdue” is still the mandate. When we pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth,” we are acting as agents with God to bring about change, to enforce his Kingdom.
Name one thing in your life you enjoy doing that didn’t take some time to learn. Reading, skiing, playing an instrument, driving a car—there was something to be learned before you could enjoy it. Prayer is like that, too.
Oh yes—prayer works. Especially the passionate, authoritative prayers you see filling the Psalms, the Gospels, and the New Testament.