In physics, power is the rate at which work is performed or energy is converted. It is represented by the equation P(ower)=W(ork)/t(ime).
In the spiritual realm, that may be a good place for us to begin a discussion of the power of prayer. PP=W/t. Power in prayer equals the amount of actual prayer (work) divided by the time spent in prayer. The more time spent in prayer, the more effective our prayers. That would be a good place to begin, that is, if God measured our prayers by the time we spend praying. But that’s not what God does. Jesus made that clear in his denunciation of the Pharisees.
So what does matter? It matters that we pray. That’s it. While God doesn’t measure the length of our prayers, God does care that we pray. Prayer is an admission of our limitedness and a recognition that the all-powerful, all-loving God really does care about what we think and want, really does intervene in the affairs of men, and that life really is a collaboration between man and God.
One of the greatest prayer passages in the Bible is hidden away in Paul’s closing remarks to the church in Rome. He asks the Roman believers to pray for him, specifically to pray that he would be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that his service for Jerusalem would be acceptable to the Christians there, and that he would be able to visit the church in Rome (Romans 15:30-32). Overlay those three prayer requests over the closing chapters of the book of Acts and you will see a marvelous testimony to the power of answered prayer. Paul is miraculously delivered from an angry mob by a Roman soldier, saved from an assassination plot when a young man overhears a comment and persuades the Roman government to get Paul out of Jerusalem, and arrives safely in Rome after being saved from a storm at sea after the boat perishes upon the rocks. Oh, yes, and the believers in Jerusalem do welcome him warmly. It is a fascinating story!
Why all this talk about prayer and power? Because I want to call the churches in UBA to a Day of Prayer for our city. Specifically, Sunday, January 31. I want to challenge every church in UBA to set aside time in the worship service, set aside time in Sunday School, Bible study classes or in small group fellowships, set aside time to pray for our city — specifically that churches would be faithful in sharing the gospel with the lost in 2010, that folks will be saved in 2010 in record numbers, and that the transforming power of God will be evident in our city throughout the year.
Texas Baptists are engaged in an initiative called Texas Hope 2010 which has three goals: that the gospel is shared with everyone in Texas by Easter Sunday 2010, that no one go to bed hungry in Texas, and that these initiatives be undergirded and supported through fervent, focused, intercessory prayer. The Houston expression of this is called Pentecost Houston. Randall Everett, executive director of BGCT, has issued a challenge to BGCT churches to set aside time that day to pray for Texas. I want to encourage all UBA churches regardless of state convention affiliation to set aside a few minutes that day to pray that the lost in Texas will be reached with the gospel, and specifically that our initiatives in Houston will be effective in sharing the gospel with the lost in our city.
When Paul asked the Romans to pray for him, it was years before anyone knew of the significance of that request and the power unleashed through their prayers. It may be a few years before we know the impact and power of the prayers of 2010, but it is my firm belief that if we are faithful in praying, God will be faithful in responding. What a difference it will make.
Let us pray.