It seems like over the last few years, in light of communal, national and international tragedies prayer has, in its simplest terms, become a buzzword that plagues media outlets, or, more thoughtfully, a way to stand in solidarity and show support for those suffering.
In times of calamity we often feel that we are so distanced from the heart of the troubles, and unable to practically help that we turn to the media and phrases such as #prayforfreemanschool or #prayformexico as is further discussed in these articles, “Technology is forever changing how we pray” and “Use this hashtag to talk to God.” Now, I am in no place to stand and say that these responses are substandard; however, I am asserting that we are in fact undermining the power of prayer.
I hold that prayer is one of our most powerful tools, and that it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Many people have commented that prayer in light of horrendous tribulation is pointless, and what is most needed is action. For instance, regarding the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma, we need practical, tangible support. Which, granted, holds much truth—action is necessary to help bring solace and to assist in the recovery process after tragedy has struck. But, this sort of action should come as a result of faith in Christ and confidence in prayer: faith without works is dead. Over the years as a Christian, one of the best explanations of faith that I have come across is simply, “belief put into action.” If, as an individual, you have faith in God and His omnipotence, then one way to put that faith into action would be through prayer. Prayer is an action that has much potential and power. James 5:17 states, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Furthermore, one of the reasons we pray is to demonstrate our faith in God, believing that he will do what is promised in his word. He promised that when we ask for things that are in accordance with his will, he will give us what we ask for. However, it is important to clarify that prayer should not be seen as our means of getting God to do our will on earth, rather as a means of getting God’s will done on earth. Asking for the all-knowing, all-powerful God’s will to be done on earth in the name of Jesus—I can’t think of anything more impactful.
It’s also notable to look at Jesus’ prayer life while on earth. The very son of the living God, a member of the Trinity, is still in obedience to the father through prayer. So, if the Lord Jesus himself didn’t take prayer lightly, then how much more seriously should we take it? A prayerful life is a life of humbling of ourselves, of laying down our will, and of coming to God for the little things as well as the big things. In praying with authenticity, boldness and confidence, we can rest in hope and peace in Christ. As is stated in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is the power of prayer. To surrender all of your emotions and concerns about something so prodigious as an international tragedy unto a power greater than yourself. Prayer is, in essence, surrendering yourself and your will to God and asking him to fill whatever void is in your heart. So, during these times of catastrophe, yes, with a heavy heart I am praying for Freeman High School and Mexico among other international disasters, and am doing so with a strong awareness as to the significance of my petitions. This is the true power of prayer.