I came from a background where prayer was a silent and personal action that you just kept between God and yourself. Kneel at the pew, and in a ritualistic manner pray to God – your needs, problems and grievances. Silently. There was no discussion of what we prayed about either really, or whether God answered us. It wasn’t particularly encouraging. Did God really answer prayer?
When I came to the born-again knowledge about God, and came to know about His grace and mercy on my life, I knew that there’d be something a bit different to my practices. It wasn’t regimented like before, but it was because I knew there was a present God who was alive and listening to my prayers. Retrospectively, I just had to thank God for everything He had done, especially as I saw how He was indeed there for me, and got me out of a few situations!
Although there was this shift in my attitude and perspectives towards God, the whole process of my prayer life changing didn’t come across so simply as it sounds. As a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) I had to learn a lot of things again – things that I had already known about, but just from a different perspective coupled with the appreciation about the living God.
Experiencing new and different Christian circles both at church and university was a completely different realm from what I was traditionally used to, and I received some contrasting feelings. As mentioned above, I was used to a very reverential way of praying to God and it wasn’t shared among fellow believers.
There were a couple of occasions I was asked to pray – out loud, and I wasn’t comfortable with this because I wasn’t used to it. Probably the first, memorable experience was with a fellow Christian prior to doing some student evangelism on campus (something I was also quite adverse to!) We prayed that we would be able to talk with someone about our faith, and that they would be receptive. I was apprehensive to do this at uni because I only imagined what my fellow students would be like – unresponsive and hostile to the Gospel message.
To my surprise, we ended up talking with a young chap for about 45 minutes on lunch. We got to speak at lengths about ourselves and it was quite funny how we had quite a lot in common, particularly our backgrounds. It would be small things like this, that consolidated my faith in the importance of prayer. I felt a lot more power in prayer when believers would come together – to know you have the same issues, and want to overcome them by coming together in agreement, and alignment with God and to humbly know it’s not by our strength but by His (Matthew 18:20).
Another pertinent time was during the rough patch I went through after graduating. There were a few extended periods of time where I couldn’t line up any work at all. A good friend of mine was also going through this same situation – so instead of thinking about myself, and fervently praying for myself alone I shifted my prayers towards my mate getting a job. It was about a week of some serious prayer and, you guessed it – he got a job, one that he was happy with, deserved and still in today. This situation really reminded me when Job prayed for his friends, and God restored them all (Job 42:10). It was a great lesson for me, that there’s so much more power in praying for others than yourself (and it also taught me the Matthew 6:25-34 lesson – do not worry!)
My final, but more recent testimony is about a situation in the workplace. I started in an environment earlier last year and was the only Christian in the office with about eight of us. Alongside the struggle of adapting to a new environment, it was also difficult for me to find my way, and learning how to act Christly within the workplace. I prayed earnestly for months to have another colleague in the office that was Christian and could help guide me. Lo and behold, God answered me some months later – and provided an older Christian, who had also formerly been a chaplain. What are the odds? Praise God. My jaw dropped when I heard this news. It’s things like this that turn me away from the belief in coincidences and put my faith back in a living God, that does hear us.
These are just a few small examples in my life of an ongoing tale that both you and I share and can experience. A matter of building our faith, and trust in the Lord. A good friend of mine once told me to keep a journal. Write down your prayers and then write down when God answers them and you’ll be amazed at what has happened when you come to the end of the year. I feel we have a tendency as humans to just forget all the things God has done in our life (cf. Peter on the water [Matthew 14:22-33]). But meditate on James 1:17 and let it encourage you.
Overall, it has taken me a few years since becoming a Christian to truly believe the power of prayer, and put my trust in the Lord. There were a few times where God truly and amazingly answered my prayers and I’m sure there’s times where I don’t even realise when He’s working in my life.
If anything, I want this article to compel you to know that you can pray, directly to God. You have that ability. Christ died for us so that we can boldly go to the Father (Hebrews 4:16).
I would love to hear some of your testimonies!
I hope this has helped!