What is the point of prayer?

As those who belong to Jesus, we may not have the levers of political power, but we can exercise authority and call down wisdom for those who will use them.

What is the point of prayer?
The spire points heavenwards, indistinct in the driving rain (image credit: ian Greig)

• Prayer doesn’t drive everything, but it does drive what is good

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
–1 Timothy 2:8 NLT

The context of this verse is about believers praying for those in civil authority or leadership. The section starts:

“I urge, then... that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for... kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives...” – vv.1-2

This is regardless of our perceptions of their beliefs or faith! Hardly any rulers in Timothy’s world had believed in Jesus.

This draws a picture of a partnership. They hold the responsibility for action on the ground. But we are given the responsibility for spiritual intervention in the heavenlies, so we -- I hesitate to use this word but will say it -- have a duty to bless them with guidance and wellbeing.

The Church of England, the established church in my part of the UK, has its set prayers for the Queen and royal family.

And Parliament in Westminster begins every sitting with Speaker’s Prayers in which MPs of Christian faith, divided politically, intercede in agreement for God’s guidance in the day’s business.

We have plenty of opinions about the ministers, advisers and health service leaders in the present crisis. But how ready are we to talk to God with words that harmonise with other believers’ prayers, and bring the help those figurehead people would ask for, if they knew how?

Christians praying for scientists and medical profession leaders this year, have sought God for a way of stopping coronavirus spreading, and treating those with severe symptoms. And successful, tested vaccines are now being distributed. What couldn’t be done in less than ten years, has been achieved in ten months. Effective treatments have been developed, mortality rates have dropped and hospitals have withstood the strain.

We have more influence than we might think — greater than those we see on television, answering questions and proposing protective measures. We can talk to the ultimate government in heaven and know that our voice is heard there.

“Politics”,  when we say we “don’t like all the politics”, is our word for disputing attitudes. They are so destructive of church and community. Anger rises up when people disagree, and especially when they are fearful.

However, praying, spiritually-agreeing Christians are the antidote to what the devil feeds on.

Jesus said: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:19-20 NIV

The context is politics! Or disputes, anyway. The principle is wider. This is what we do because it just works. It pleases our Father. Our Jesus-centred agreement is like an invitation to the Holy Spirit.

Those who are elected, or appointed, are given the power of decision-making. And we nod and agree with others who say, “Good luck to them with that!”

But we don’t believe in luck, we believe in divine authority and heavenly wisdom.

Takeaway

We are the ones who know how to ask for that. We are the ones who can get it for them.

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