For some people, prayer is merely a process of psychological and emotional cleansing.
To others, prayer is superstition. To some, prayer is powerful. To others, prayer is like the man talking to his car. Let me explain that one.
The man had parked his car on the street on a pretty steep hill in a town I used to live.
As I was on my run, heading toward it, I noticed the man looking at his car and saying, "Stay" pretty firmly, apparently convinced that it would work.
Personally, I figured the parking brake might be more effective, but whatever. It was only as I got closer that I noticed the dog in the front seat.
You see, to the unbeliever, to the person who doesn't know the power of prayer, best case scenario, prayer seems to be as effective as talking to your car, telling it to stay. Thank God that he has shown us that real prayer has something much bigger than a dog behind it.
Thank God that, today, he shows us the true power of prayer, and today, through our Old Testament Lesson, we learn to Pray Powerfully.
And we need these lessons, because so often, we don't. God has given us this gift of talking to Him directly.
Think of that, we get to speak directly with the real master of the universe, the one with all the power, presenting our requests and making our demands, and what's more, he wants us to.
And then... we don't use that privilege all the time?! Sure, we pray sometimes - at church, before we eat, before we go to bed or when we wake up. But are there times when you don't realize how powerful a gift we actually have? God wants us to talk to him so much more, and so much more powerfully - because he knows how good it is for us, and how much it does accomplish.
Open up your Bible and read this section from Genesis, and you'll see an example of a powerful prayer. While you read, notice what makes this prayer so powerful.
First, it is based on God's mercy, not on our worth. Second, it is holding God to His promises, not our whims. Third, this prayer is unselfish. And, so obviously, this prayer is bold.
Now, take a moment and create your own prayer, learning from Abraham. Be bold. Nothing is too small or too big to ask for. And God likes it when you keep asking. He wants you to communicate with him. He's paid your bill.
Think of it this way: How much do you pay for the monthly minutes on your cell phone? Too much, right?
But since you have them, you might as well use them. It would be pretty foolish to spend all that and never use the communication device.
Well, God paid a greater price for our privilege to communicate with him. In Ephesians 2, Paul describes that price - the body of Jesus, "to reconcile (us) to God through the cross ... For through him we ... have access to the Father by one Spirit."
Jesus shed his blood to wash away every reason God would ever have to refuse to listen to us. He died to make us God's children - so we could talk to God - freely, often, and powerfully. So do it. Pray powerfully. In Christ, Amen.