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Six essentials of powerful prayer

By Thomas Lindberg

An airliner bound for New York City was making its final preparations for landing. The pilot, however, realized his landing gear would not lower. He pulled the plane up and tried again. No luck. The gear was stuck.

The pilot contacted the control tower and communicated the problem. Ground crews sprayed the runway with foam and emergency vehicles raced into position. "Land the plane the best you can," was radioed back to the pilot. "Good luck."

The captain informed the passengers of their situation and then ended, "In accordance with international aviation codes established in Geneva, it is my obligation to inform you that if you believe in God, you should begin to pray."

When I read that true story I thought, If the plane had not been in a crisis that day, the pilot would not have told his passengers to pray. Why does it take an emergency for people to turn to prayer?

Jesus thought differently about prayer. He urged people always "to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1, NKJV). Let’s get up close and personal about prayer today using the six letters of the word "prayer."

P – Priority. Let there be no question that prayer should be a priority for God’s people. Not just when we face trouble, or on a holiday, or now and then. Prayer needs to be a constant priority. Jesus made prayer a priority in His life. He is our example.

None of us are sufficient in ourselves. I walked by a pond not long ago and saw a mother duck and seven baby ducklings. As I walked closer, those ducklings ran to their mother. They saw me as trouble with a capital T. They ran to their mother because they were insufficient in their own experience, strength and wisdom.

Left on my own I’m insufficient as well. I do not know the future. I do not have complete strength. I cannot do my job without God’s help. I’m unable to fight the devil on my own, and I cannot guard my soul or secure it for heaven. Prayer must be my priority. Make it so in your life.

R – Relationship. Prayer is based on a relationship with God. Jesus said that when you pray, you can begin with, "Our Father." That’s relationship.

I was a guest in a secular university philosophy class. One student asked me, "What’s so great about religion?" I replied, "Nothing. Christians are not into religion; we’re into relationships – with God and with others." And one of the foundations in that relationship with God is through prayer.

When you pray, God does not just hear your words, He also sees your heart. Spending time in prayer builds a relationship with Jesus. There’s nothing more vital or rewarding than a prayer relationship with God Almighty.

A – Advocate. As you know, the word "advocate" means one who pleads the case for another. When we pray, the Spirit is our Advocate. Why? Because prayer is so significant and we are so weak. My best prayers are so feeble that I’m thrilled to know I have someone to plead my case.

Romans 8:26 puts it like this; "The Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." That’s our Advocate. Please do not forget that powerful connection when you pray.

Y – Yield. When we pray we must yield ourselves to God. The posture of the body is not as important as the condition of the heart. Is your heart yielded to God?

"How do I yield to God?" you ask. Pray and commit these four things to God:

God, I want You to live in me.

Jesus, help me follow You daily.

Holy Spirit, be my Guide.

Mighty Lord, think Your thoughts through me.

Those steps will enable you to be on a firm foundation to pray.

E – Effective. Some like to argue over how prayer works or debate if prayer works. I know prayer works, for I’ve seen its effectiveness. Consider this documented case from my home state.

In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in Minnesota. In the spring of 1877, farmers believed that the dreadful plague would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people.

The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting. He urged every man, woman and child to ask God to prevent the terrible scourge. On that April day, all schools, shops, stores and offices were closed. There was a reverent, quiet hush over all the state.

The next day dawned bright and clear. Temperatures soared to what they ordinarily were in midsummer, which was very peculiar for April. Minnesotans were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For three days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that it wouldn’t be long before they started feeding and destroying the wheat crop.

On the fourth day, however, the temperature suddenly dropped, and that night frost covered the earth. It killed every one of those creeping, crawling pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used. Grateful farmers never forgot that day. It went down in the history books of Minnesota as the day God answered prayer.

Friend, don’t doubt it or try to deny it. Prayer is effective.

R – Response. What will be your response to becoming a man or a woman committed to prayer? The reply God desires from us is not true or false. True, prayer works, or false, prayer does not work – that’s not the response. The response God desires from you is yes or no – yes I will pray, or no I won’t pray. Let me urge you to respond with an eternal yes.

Wherever you are reading this right now, the Holy Spirit is near to you. Look to Jesus. Ask His help. It is time to seek the Lord.


Thomas Lindberg, D.Min., is pastor of First Assembly of God of Memphis in Cordova, Tenn. E-mail the author at pe@ag.org.

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