The Importance and Power of Prayer

What do you mean by ‘Prayer’ to start with? If you thought it was asking God for stuff you’re not completely wrong. We’re supposed to ask God for our needs, and I think it’s just fine to ask God for the particular things like, “Dear God, please heal my son.” or “Please  God we need money to pay the bills.”

However, these sorts of prayers are really a means to an end rather than an end in themselves. When we pray for specific things we are putting it all into God’s hands. We may say, “Give us this day our daily bread” but we also say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we do both together we join our will with God’s will and great power can be the result. The power I’m talking about is the power to change the world, and even more miraculous–the power to change ourselves.

Of course, when I say “power to change ourselves” I really mean God’s power is released through prayer for the transformation of our lives. The first thing that is transformed in our lives in this way, is our viewpoint. By prayer we gradually shift from judging everything according to how it impacts us to judging everything according to God’s will.

This step is very important because it is only when this paradigm shift takes place that we can begin to see that some of the stuff in our lives which we find unpleasant or difficult is actually there for a different purpose. Perhaps God is using the difficult situation to teach us a lesson, to show us our faults and to help us get better. It could be that what we perceive as a nuisance and a bother and a difficulty is the way forward, but in a different direction than we had anticipated. When something is taken away from us it could be that God is making way to give us something better. Prayer helps us to see things in this new way and step by step begin living by faith and trust in divine providence.

Before long we start to live within the guidance of God and then, gradually, as we begin seeing things God’s way we start praying for the things that God really wants. Wow! When that happens the power is really unleashed and we begin to see great answers to prayer. When we pray for God’s will to be done and we understand what God’s will is, then our actions and our prayers–our life and our faith begin working together in tandem. Faith and works become one faith-full action. Things come together. Life harmonizes. All if provided. All are protected.

Living within this harmonious state is something which is achieved by grace-fueled action.  Believe. Be. Live. Be alive. Suddenly we start to realize that we are actually living in the state of grace that we longed for. Suddenly we begin to understand that marvelous and mysterious verse from Scripture, “All things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.”

This is where we should be headed and prayer is the power that gets us there.


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  • ben

    Good post! Thanks

  • Erin Pascal

    The subject of whether it was best to pray and ask God for specifics or to just pray for the working of His will has always confused me. Thank you so much Father for putting together such a beautiful explanation.

  • Theresa

    Dear Father,
    It is a nice post, but for a bereaved parent it only raises more questions, more doubts. Our 25 years old son was killed in a single vehical accident, on his way home from being a godfather at a baptism. A Franciscan grad, he was working towards his master’s degree. He was a gentle and holy soul. How does this “unpleasantness or difficulty” teach us a lesson or curb a fault? How does this removal of something prepare us to embrace something better? Do you see how a parent can extrapolate that their child’s death was actually for their benefit, or perhaps because of their evilness, yes?
    I do not pray anymore, God will do what He wants anyway, I have resigned myself to whatever happens. I find harmony and grace elusive and acceptance of God’s will does not bring harmony, all is not protected. We lived our life in the church for many years, daily Mass, lived the rhythm of the church. Now I simply wait for the next knock on my door.
    Much of life is lived in the dryness of no consolation, the desert, more abrasion than ease. I read somewhere that our tears are prayers, our misery is prayer, our desolation. It is not the heady dynamic that you speak of above, it is more the cold cave of abandonment, the not so golden side of abandonment to Divine Providence.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for your comment, and I am so terribly sorry to hear of your tragic loss. It is not for me to bandy smug theological comfort words to you, and I hope my post did not offend. When you are in the midst of such seemingly senseless loss there is nothing I can do for you but pray and offer you what little crumbs of friendship and support I can from the distance of place and not knowing you. I can only hope that as you walk through this valley of the shadow of death you will somehow and in some way come through. You have my prayers.

  • v

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Fr. Dwight! Your reflection reminded me to be faithful to my prayer time and to have faith and trust so that I can pray for what God really wants for my life.