More than 2,000 years ago, in the religious heartland of the world, iconic events occurred which were to change the course of history. So significant are these events that they have the power to change peoples’ destinies. Yet so divisive are these same events that they separate right down the middle those who will live forever and those who will die in their sins.
I am talking, of course, about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, and Saviour of the world.
For the purposes of this blog, I am highlighting these events to make a point about prayer. Because the supernatural events surrounding the day Jesus died also changed the way men, women and children could communicate with the Father forever. If only they had realised it at the time, it was no longer necessary for the priest to sacrifice pigeons, goats and bulls as an atonement for their sins. Now, through the blood of Jesus, they had direct access to the Father through prayer. The curtain in the temple separating the Holy of Holies from the priests and the rest of the worshippers was rent in two that night. The fact that such a large, thick, heavy curtain could be torn in this miraculous way was a powerful God-sent sign indicating that followers of Jesus didn’t need an intermediary any more to communicate with the Father. Rather, they could speak to God directly in prayer.
It took a while for the small band of men and women who had followed Jesus to realise this. But after seeing the risen Lord and witnessing his final resurrection into heaven, they banded together to spread the word about Jesus. And so the Christian community was born. Because of the faithful witness of the apostles, increasing multitudes of people began to believe in the Christian faith. Despite all the persecution and hardships, the joyful testimony of men like Peter helped the word spread. And one of the key vehicles for spreading the gospel was prayer.
Through their persistent prayers for each other, not only did these early Christians experience personal growth, but they also prayed more and more people into this new Christian faith. Their prayers were so powerful that their tiny church grew at a phenomenal rate, spilling over into neighbouring countries. Today, the gospel is preached on all six continents, and the church is still growing, attracting people from many different cultures, lands, and nations.
Jesus taught us that we can pray to the Father for anything and that he will always answer prayers according to his will. Over the centuries, billions of prayers have gone up to heaven about physical healing. The many examples of healings in the Bible and our own witnessing of healings in today’s world act as decisive evidence that prayer does work: that it is powerful and effective.
This is not to say that God heals every illness. He may have other plans that we know nothing about. But we do know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8,28)
Even about trivial things, we can pray to God. We can also pray to him about more important matters – like protection when we are in danger, rest when we are stressed and tired, inspiration when we need it most and provision when he has financial needs or job losses. God will answer all our prayers according to his will and for his glory.
It is so rewarding to see God’s powerful and mighty hand at work as he turns the impossible into the possible: he heals a friend of a terminal illness by providing the specialists with great insight; he provides a job for an acquaintance at the eleventh hour when it seemed all hope was lost; he saves us from a serious accident by a hair's breadth.
God is pleased when we pray to him. He has always used the prayers of his saints to perform mighty miracles in the world, miracles that we could never have dreamed were possible.
Prayer is no ‘magic trick’! It is a sincere, heartfelt, meaningful relationships with the Father. But as his very own children, he will allow us, at times, to feel the extraordinarily healing power of prayer.
God is indeed mighty and powerful, and he will hear your prayers.
So keep praying to him, your God and Father, and thank his son, Jesus, for granting us access to him.