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Making Prayer Primary As Never Before

Prayer is at the forefront of my mind these days. I decided toward the end of last year that I wanted to grow more in my knowledge and practice of prayer. I remain excited about what I have learned over the last 15 years working for our church, from books, sermons and through my own time of talking, crying out, and listening to God. And I am looking forward to what this year of focused self-directed study, more consistent prayer and prayer into action will yield.

“The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray,” wrote E.M. Bounds, a Methodist minister whose writings and sermons about prayer gained wide-spread notice after his death in 1913.  Yesterday I began reading his best-seller, E.M. Bounds on Prayer, which has been sitting on my bookshelf for months.  The first chapter stoked further my desire to delve into a passionate study of prayer and its power to transform lives.

“The earth is changed, revolutionized,” Bounds wrote, “ angels move on more powerful, more rapid winds; and God’s policy is shaped when the prayers of His people are more numerous and more efficient.”

There is power in prayer which few of us know how to harness.  Last month, I started rereading Jim Cymbala’s “Breakthrough Prayer,” which seeks to elevate and energize our limited prayer lives. Cymbala, the pastor of  Brooklyn Tabernacle, overhauled my thinking about prayer when I read his book, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” as part of our small group.  I have not prayed or thought about prayer the same way since. He later wrote “Breakthrough Prayer,” in which he says:

“Although the world has made giant strides in comprehending subjects like atomic energy and nuclear fusion, most of us still live with only the slightest understanding of the most ancient, dynamic source of power there is—the power that comes from prayer. In fact, we have not yet begun to experience the infinite power and possibility that becomes available when we call on the name of the Lord in prayer. Only as we break through in prayer will we discover what the Almighty can accomplish for us.”

And I add what God can accomplish in us and through us. I am looking forward to seeing what God will do during this part of my faith journey as I make prayer primary in ways that I haven’t before and as I stay open to His leading. I am excited about a couple of prayer emphases that He already has put in my heart.

Both Cymbala and Bounds talk in their books about the blessings God gives us through prayer and the blessings we give to others when we pray for them. Bounds reminded me of the blessing I received from having a mom and dad who had steady conversations with God, who prayed on behalf of others and who knew how to wait on God for the petitions they sought.  My parents covered my sister and I in prayer, and in the process they demonstrated what James 5:16 says about effectual fervent prayer having great effect.

“They whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy legacy of prayer are very fortunate, indeed,” Bounds wrote.

As a child, I used to see my mother kneeing by her bedside and praying. I was always in awe of her faithfulness in prayer, and as the years advanced I came to depend on her ability to have her prayers answered. Although my mom went to rest in the Lord when I was fourteen, I am still a benefactor of some of those answered prayers. My children– for whom I pray diligently, sometimes desperately– are also benefactors.  I am grateful that I have my own direct communication with a listening God.

While talking with a friend yesterday about the power of prayer, we reflected on the role that our mothers and grandmothers played in helping protect us from ourselves through their prayers. The conversation reminded me of the verses from the song:
Somebody Prayed for Me.

My mother prayed for me, had me on her mind,
she took the time and prayed for me.
I’m so glad she prayed,
I’m so glad she prayed,
I’m so glad she prayed for me.

Who are you praying for?  What are you asking God for that will transform your family, your church, your community, our world?


Contributed by Evelyn Sittner-Callau for the February issue of The Good News Letter.

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