Spiritual Formation: The Power and Privilege of Prayer

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:16b-17

Rain-stopping prayer–that’s the kind of prayer life most of us would like to have. In reality, we often describe our prayer lives as inconsistent and feeble. I hear many Christians say that they would pray more if they knew what to pray for. A quick remedy for this would to be to check the latest news headlines. Truthfully, there is no shortage of things to pray for; what’s lacking is faith in God’s promise to answer our prayers. In these moments, our prayer should be “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).”

1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Perhaps the reason some of our prayer go unanswered is because we are asking that God would bless our will instead of “Thy will be done.” It is a tremendous blessing to be able to approach the God of the Universe through Christ in prayer. Not only that, but God hears us! With this in mind, may we boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need (Heb. 4:16)


Make no mistake; prayer is work. It is glorious, worthwhile work, but it is work nonetheless. In the introduction of his book, “Christ in the School of Prayer” Andrew Murray writes, “when we learn to regard [prayer] as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work, we shall see that there is nothing that we so need to study and practice as the art of praying aright.” Whether we are praying through Scripture, attending a prayer meeting, or praying quietly to ourselves for the soul of our neighbor, may we never lose sight of the power and privilege of prayer. It is essential to our spiritual formation.

man praying in a cave

A Still, Small Voice

Can you imagine what it would have been like to witness the events that took place on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Can you picture the false prophets dancing around, slashing themselves, pleading with their god to send fire down to burn up sacrifice? All the while, Elijah stands there mocking them and their gods saying, “Where is your god? Is he in the bathroom or is he asleep?” And then, finally, can you picture hearing Elijah’s prayer and the LORD’s miraculous answer? What an incredible display of God’s power and might!

I often pray for God to answer my prayers in a similar manner. I mean, I want to see him move in power! I want to see Him victorious over His enemies! I want the world to know that He alone is God! It seems to me that a “Mount Carmel-like” miracle would do the trick, right?

But, if I am honest, I’ve never seen anything that comes close to this in my life. I am not saying that it can’t happen, I just have yet to see God move in this manner today.

For a long time, I had difficulty understanding the events that took place after the definitive victory at Mount Carmel. Elijah flees in fear after Jezebel makes a personal death threat. He finds protection and safety in a cave at Mount Horeb, the place where Moses met with God. After asking why Elijah was there, the LORD tells Elijah to come out and stand in His presence. Suddenly, a powerful wind comes, followed by a strong earthquake, followed by more fire from heaven. But, the Scripture says that the LORD was not in these things.

Then, Elijah hears a gentle whisper. He comes out to meet with the LORD who speaks to Him gently: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And what was Elijah doing there? Why was he running from Jezebel after he had just witnessed the LORD defeat the several hundred prophets of Baal? It seems to me that when God’s judgement didn’t come upon Jezebel in Elijah’s timing, Elijah wondered if God was still working. By answering Elijah with a still, small voice God taught Elijah that He didn’t need natural disasters or miracles to prove His power. Even when Elijah couldn’t see it, God was still working.

Maybe you need a miracle today. You really need to see God’s mighty hand move. Or perhaps you have been praying for God to manifest His power in a Mount Carmel fashion. Let me encourage you to remember that God is God even when we don’t hear the roaring thunder. He is still on His throne even when we don’t see the flashing lightning. And He still speaks today, even if it is a still, small voice. Don’t be afraid when He is quiet. He is still the LORD God Almighty.

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 18-19

Song for reflection and prayer:

praying in the morning

Your Mornings Matter

Brothers and sisters, don’t sleep the day away. Listen, I know how nice it is to sleep in every now and then. Sometimes we need to catch up on our sleep and that’s okay. But just remember that there is a constant war going on beyond your comforter.

I’m talking about a spiritual war between good and evil; truth vs. lies; morality vs. immorality. All you have to do is turn on the news or scroll through your social media feed to see that the future of our world is becoming increasingly more chaotic and unsure. For many, these are beyond frightening times.

For Americans, we are seeing more and more division between coworkers. I’ve noticed more hostility between friends and neighbors. And the nuclear family is disappearing like Spiderman at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. It seems as though all of our relationships are strained.

But there is hope!

The Bible makes it clear that the prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much (James 5:16). Furthermore, things happen when we pray to our Father in heaven that wouldn’t happen unless we prayed. It may be difficult for you to imagine your atheist friend trusting in Jesus. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the abolition of abortion in the United States. And honestly, there are some days where fulfilling the Great Commission seems laughable. Why is this? Because in our own strength none of these things will come to pass. We aren’t strong enough. But God is! And that is why we pray. Prayer acknowledges who God is and who we are not.

It is easy to stay in bed and ignore the problems of the day. I have wasted so many opportunities in the past snoozing my alarm when I could have been praying to the only One fully capable of handing all of my problems. Mornings are important because they are usually quiet, and we are unencumbered with things we have to do for that day. Before you get on your phone, get on your knees. Before you call up a friend, call out to God. Christian, you are a soldier for Christ. You are on the front lines now. The only weapons you have are prayer and the Word of God. But they are all you need.

Brothers and sisters, your mornings matter. They matter because God hears the prayers of His children. Do not take prayer for granted or undervalue its worth. Pray all throughout the day, but especially at the start. Your prayer this morning could change the course of the day. It could even lead to a brighter tomorrow.



3 Ways To Get Out of a Prayer Rut

3 Ways to Get Out of a Prayer Rut

If you are like me then sometimes your prayers can feel very mechanical and rote. Whenever I become apathetic in my prayer life, all of my prayers end up sounding the same. They are also usually rushed, lacking an earnestness and fervor that only comes from actively pursuing intimacy with God. Occasionally, I try to change things up a bit in order to break these cycles. Here are three things I do regularly when I feel like I am in a prayer rut.

1. I change my prayer posture.

This may sound somewhat silly, but it has truly helped me at times. Whenever I am feeling lazy in prayer I notice that much of my praying is done slouched over in a chair. Sometimes I simply need to move to my knees or stand up with arms spread wide in order to be refreshed in my prayer life. On many occasions, changing the position of my body has helped me to better “position” my prayers towards God and His will. We should always make sure our hearts are bowed low when we pray. If changing your posture of prayer will help you to bow your heart to God even lower, change it! If you are in public, don’t worry about looking foolish or what people might say. Do whatever you must in order to get right with God.

2. I thank God for the things I overlook.

We all have things we thank God for on a regular basis—our friends, our family, our health, our blessings, etc. When is the last time you thanked Him for the way the light shines through the window on a sunny day? Or for the peaceful sound of a midnight rainstorm? Have you every stopped to thank Him for the color green? The smell of fresh baked cookies? The laughter of your children?

How long has it been since you thanked God for saving you? 

There are so many things we have to be thankful for. Understanding this will help us to get out of those prayer ruts. We know that every good gift comes from the Father. It should be our desire to thank Him for them all. It doesn’t matter how small or “insignificant” the thing might seem. God is worthy of the praise for it!

3. I turn to the Psalms.

What a treasure the Psalms are in the life of the Christian. Whenever I am struggling in my prayer life, I can always turn to the Psalms and be refreshed. The Psalms teach us how to pray with the knowledge of God’s character and attributes. They show us what it looks like to put God first when we pray. They also show us what is acceptable and not acceptable to pray for. We are all prone to pray selfishly for things, behaving as if God is our personal genie instead of Our Creator and Master. Praying through the Psalms will help any Christian to get his prayer life back in order.

I pray that your prayer life would deepen and grow as a result of implementing these three things. I know how difficult it can be to get out of a rut, but let me reassure you that it’s not impossible. If there is anything that you would add please leave it in the comments. It may be a blessing to someone else who comes along to read this post.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Building Character Before Ministry

Building Character Before Ministry

Today I want to discuss the importance of prioritizing character before ministry. In other words, learning how to walk before you run. I see so many young Christians my age constantly asking, “how do I know what God is calling me to do?” They want to know so desperately what kind of ministry they should go into. But few, if any, ask the Lord how to build their character.

Would we send a soldier into battle without any training? Would we hire someone to teach who had not first been taught? That wouldn’t be very wise, would it? Likewise, if we want to minister for God, first we need to be trained and taught by Him.

I have been a Christian for about 12 years now. I became a believer and was baptized when I was 13 years old. I have grown so much over the past decade, but I’ve got to be honest; a majority of my spiritual growth as a Christian has taken place during the past 2 years or so. Why? It is because God has been developing my character. I had learned a lot of things about God, especially in Bible college. But, I had failed to devote myself to actually living and looking more like Jesus. I wasn’t really talking with Him; I was talking about Him. I wasn’t so much concerned about ministering to Him (Matthew 25:40); I was more concerned about calling myself a minister for Him. Holiness was what I preached, but it wasn’t necessarily what I practiced. It is funny how mature an immature Christian believes himself to be.

To fast forward to now, God has been showing me what it means to put Him first. Ministry is so important, but it will not last forever. However, my relationship with Jesus will. Furthermore, our ministries are only as genuine as our characters are. I have seen ministers who failed morally, and years and years of ministry went down in flames in an instant. If you want a long-lasting, fruitful ministry, you have to be committed to walking with God in public and in private.

You also need to be patient. Don’t dive headlong into ministry before it is time. You will drown from all of the worries and hardships that come along with it. Learn how to dive into God’s Word, to plunge to the never ending depths of its truth. Learn how to pray, brother. Learn how to rest in the Lord, sister. God will use you to bless the nations. He will use you mightily. But, first you’ve got to know His heart and understand His power. Joseph spent many years in prison for a crime he did not commit. It was during this time, when it seemed like God wasn’t doing anything that He was actually doing His greatest work. God was preparing Joseph to become the second-in-command of all of Egypt. He was making Joseph into a man of god. It took time; the process did not happen over night. But, when the appointed time came for Joseph to minister to Pharaoh…everything changed in an instant.

cross at the beach

The Prayer I Pray Most Often

In recent days, I have noticed myself praying one specific prayer more than any other–“God, help me!” I find myself asking God for His help all the time in this season of life. Two years ago, we were living in the US, but now we live on the other side of the world. Two years ago, I had no problems or difficulties going to the grocery store, paying bills, or simply communicating with people. Now, all of these things are hard; they can be both mentally and emotionally exhausting. Learning a new language and culture requires dedication and perseverance. Becoming a father is wonderful and rewarding, yet it is a huge responsibility. I know that in my own strength, I can’t do any of these things well. So, I plead for God’s help.

You may be asking, “what do you mean by help?” I am referring to the mighty power and enabling of God Almighty. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Notice that Jesus says the word “nothing.” Many times pastors and missionaries will talk about this verse in terms of service and ministry, but I have found it to be true in every aspect of life. Some mornings I find myself praying “Lord, help me just to get out of bed this morning.” The Christian life cannot be lived out in human strength and effort. We need the Holy Spirit to fill us each and every day (Ephesians 5:18). We need Him to empower us that we might be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). I love that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Helper” in John 14:16. He was sent to help us!

Often times, I sound like the father of the boy with the unclean spirit: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.” (I need His help in simply believing at times.) According to His lovingkindness, He has always answered this prayer. He has always helped me. Maybe not in the way that I wanted or expected, but always in the way that I needed, in the way that strengthened my faith.

So, when you don’t know what to pray, pray that God would help you to know. When you don’t know what to do in the midst of a trial, pray that God would help you and give you wisdom. When you don’t feel like serving others or sharing your faith, pray for God’s help in changing your heart and attitude. This isn’t some sort of magical prayer. It is simply one that recognizes that He is God and we are not.