When the world doubts the power of prayer
Whenever a tragedy happens, we often hear people offer their prayers. Somehow, this thought that people are praying for us, should comfort us. It helps us to know that we are not alone. It creates an atmosphere of hope when all we could see otherwise is darkness.
In today’s world, however, I hear more and more how people underestimate the power of prayer. Many even mock those who offer their sincere prayers for those who have suffered a tragic fate. It is very sad that we now doubt even the power of prayer. While prayer shouldn’t hinder us from moving into action, we shouldn’t forget what prayer is. Because prayer is not just mumbling senseless words into the air. Prayer is not the same also as writing thoughtful comments on social media.
What is True Prayer?
True prayer is a powerful avenue through which we talk to Someone who can do something for the people we care about most. It is a vehicle of love, borne out of love and can turn things around just when we thought there’s nothing more we can do.
Let’s try to read a Bible verse that illustrates the power of true prayer:
“When he entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that he was at home. Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them. Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him. When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on. Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you…I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house.’” (Mark 2:1–5,11 WEBBE)
When we are in a very difficult situation, we’re like the paralytic man who could do nothing on his own. You may want to act but you cannot act. You want to spend time in fervent prayer, but you couldn’t even find the words.
But despite it all, perhaps you still believe in Jesus. If only you could reach Him. If only you could touch Him and ask Him for healing.
And that’s how the prayers of other people can help you. Like the friends of the paralytic man, they’re the ones who try to find a way for you. They’re the ones who tear off the roof and bring you to Jesus.
That’s what the true prayers of others should be. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Jesus never expected the paralytic man to come to Him on his own. How could he? But he praised their faith, the kind of faith that brought the man to Him. The kind of faith that made healing possible.
Prayer has a substance that works.
In many cases, it causes people to move and act like the friends of the paralytic man. In other cases, it helps carry the intentions and cries of the person needing help so that it can be lifted up toward heaven.
“Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” — Revelation 5:8 (WEBBE)
Prayers are like incense, the scent of which rises towards heaven.
In the book of Tobit, the angel Raphael was the one who offered the prayers of Tobit and Sarah to God.
“So you must know that when you and Sarah were at prayer, it was I who offered your supplications before the glory of the Lord and who read them; so too when you were burying the dead. When you did not hesitate to get up and leave the table to go and bury a dead man, I was sent to test your faith, and at the same time God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of the Lord.’” — Tobit, 12:12–15 (NJB)
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the earth for three years and six months. He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” — James 5:16–18 (WEBBE)
Why is the prayer of a righteous man effective?
It is effective because it is a prayer borne from faith. Through faith, we can believe that our prayers can come true. Through faith, we can dare to ask God for healing.
If we lack faith, we find it hard to even ask. How can we ask if we don’t even believe? And if we have a little faith, perhaps we can ask. But if our prayers are not answered immediately, we can easily give up.
If you’re like the paralytic man, you may not even believe you can reach Jesus. Even if you’re just outside the house where Jesus is, you may be disheartened because there are so many people you can’t even have a glimpse of Him. Even if you shout, who could hear you?
But with friends who have faith, they can carry you. Even if Jesus were inside a room crowded with people, they are not disheartened. They will think of a way, even of tearing the very roof so they could lay you down before the Lord.
That’s how the power of prayer works!
“Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.” — Saint John Vianney