by Bill Mowry (alongsider.com)
I marvel at how God mysteriously and paradoxically ties His will to our prayer lives. Our Lord is fully sovereign, able to accomplish His purposes without us, yet our prayers play a role in moving His hand. Consider the example of Samuel.
As a Judge and Prophet for Israel, it’s recorded that, “Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:13). Why was God’s hand so evident during Samuel’s lifetime? I believe it was more than his prowess as a leader. Samuel’s farewell speech provides a clue: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
God’s protection of Israel appears directly related to Samuel’s prayer life. When he prayed, God held the Philistines at bay. What would have happened if Samuel failed to pray?
Jesus knew the power of transforming prayer. Anticipating Peter’s spiritual warfare, he says that: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31,32). Simon Peter’s future success in ministry was wrapped up in Jesus’ prayer life. The Gospels record numerous examples of Jesus departing from the crowds to pray. What would have happened if Jesus failed to pray?
Jesus invites us into the mystery of prayer. When surveying the needy crowds, He asks the disciples (and us) to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:36-38). Their prayers would affect the labor shortage. What could happen if we fail to pray for laborers? Prayer places us in a partnership with the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest.
Author Philip Yancey writes about this mystery of prayer partnership: “From the very beginning, God has relied on human partners to advance the process of creation . . . . I understand prayer as partnership, a subtle interplay of human and divine that accomplishes God’s work on earth . . . . Prayer sets God loose.”
In discipling people life-to-life, we pray to “set God loose,” asking Him to transform lives, making us more like Jesus (Galatians 4:19). This change cannot be orchestrated or manipulated through ministry methods or techniques. Transformation must be prayed into a person’s life.
How can we partner with God through prayer? Here are some suggestions.
• Pray intentionally. What are you specifically praying for people?
• Pray the Scriptures. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19 is a good starting point. Imagine what would happen if God accomplished this passage in a person’s life!
• Pray in faith. Ask God to do some seemingly impossible things in people’s lives.
Alongsiders are committed to “keeping company with God” through prayer. Start the cycle of transformation today in another’s life by praying for him or her. The alongsider adventure is a partnership with God in life-transformation.