Prayer Power

John Telgren

You may have heard the slogans, such as "Prayerless is powerless," or "Believe in the Power of Prayer," or other such slogans. One of the things that have always bothered me about, "power of prayer" is that it implies that power is in prayer itself. It is similar to what some evangelists preach about the power of faith. It is up to you to name it and claim it with faith. Success is all about saying the right things, doing the right things, and believing in the right way. In other words, it is all about human action and what human action will do for you. This is the message you often hear about faith even in un-Christian circles. It appears in movies, books, folk stories, etc. This is not Christian faith. This message implies that the power is in faith itself. Similarly, the "power of prayer" implies that the power of prayer is in the action of prayer itself.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This may be another one of Satan's schemes to deceive people into thinking that they are truly spiritual and on the right track. If power is simply in faith, prayer, or any other human activity, then what of God? Is faith just thinking positively or is it more than this? Is prayer just saying the right incantation to get what you want? No, it is not. This view of prayer is more akin to magical practices than it is to biblical prayer. Listen to this prayer:

"I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breath and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine, to him by glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen" (Eph 3.16-21).

This prayer indicates that power is in God, not mere human effort. This prayer asks that we be strengthened through the Spirit, not through our own strength. This prayer asks that we be filled up with all the fullness of God. The power at work within us is not our own. It does not originate from our faith nor does it originate from our prayers. The power in our lives originates with God. God is the one who responds to our faith and prayers. Without God, faith means nothing. Without God, there would be little difference between the one who prays or does not pray. However, to the children of God who love him and pray to him, God listens and responds faithfully.

Perhaps it would be better to speak of the power of God for the faithful, rather than simply the power of prayer.