Now wait a minute…. Before you go thinking this means I’ve lost my faith, I haven’t! Or if it sounds like don’t pray, I do! However… my faith is not in the power of prayer, but rather in the One whom I am praying to.
“I don’t know how, but there’s power when I’m on my knees”
Back in the ’90s I went to a local Christian bookstore and bough my first CD. ever. I proudly carried it around with me and listened to over and over in my Discman. (Why did I have a Discman before owning any discs? Not entirely sure. I must have borrowed a lot.) Anywhoo, one of the songs on that CD that I listened to over and over to went like this:
‘Cause I’ve learned in laughter or in pain, how to survive
I get on my knees, I get on my knees
There I am before the love that changes me
See I don’t know how, but there’s power
When I’m on my knees
Jaci Velasquez | My Knees Lyrics | MetroLyrics
It’s well intended. So I don’t know where it comes from but there’s power when I’m on my knees? At a later point in the song prayer is defined as “when I feel the need to talk with God,” But something still bothers me about this… And it’s not just this song I’m picking on here, it’s a mentality I heard, seen, and have had myself. It’s this belief that there is power in prayer, and that accessing this power is up to us and the ability we have to pray.
- Wake up early to pray.
- Stay up late praying.
- Pray in solitude.
- Pray with a group.
- Pray the same thing over and over.
- Pray in new, creative ways.
- Tell people what you’re praying for.
- Tell no one what you’re praying for.
- Really, really believe.
- Have faith the size of a mustard seed and pray anyway.
What’s the right formula?! How do I get it right so that God will hear me and answer my prayers?! That method worked for this person, and this method worked for that person. How do I tap into this Power of Prayer? Surely I must have to pray longer, harder, and obviously, earlier in the morning.
Wait. Just wait.
God’s Provision in my Utter Helplessness
When did prayer (or anything God has called me to, for that matter) become about me? When did I ever have anything to offer him or to bargain with? Since when has God been on strings that can be pulled and manipulated to get what I want?
Since never. It has never, ever been about me and what I have done, can do, or will do. It always has been and always will be about Him, who He is, and what He has done!
There’s this root of pride in my heart that wants to believe there is power in prayer itself, because if that’s the case then there’s something I can do.
But isn’t that the heart of sin within each one of us? Thinking there is some way to save ourselves… something we have to offer… something we can do. But no. Oh, no, we have never had anything to bring to table. In fact we were dead. sons of disobedience. by nature children of wrath… BUT GOD!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:6-11)
So if we had nothing to contribute to saving ourselves, what bargaining chips are left with?
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)
I have no boast. It’s all Jesus.
Faith in a Genie
So now I’ve trusted Him to save me. And I pray. But I allow the prayer I am called to in the Bible to get morphed into some sort of culteral ritual. Faith isn’t the issue. We all have faith in something. We throw our coins in the wishing well, blow out our birthday candles, cross our fingers, rub our magic lamps, and pray. We think if we do things right on our end, then our genie God will be obligated to follow through on His.
The lyrics to that song say, “see I don’t know how, but there’s power when I’m on my knees.” Not so! I do know. Because the power is not in my knees or in the blue skies or in the incantations I recite. I know how prayer “works” because I know the power of the One I am praying to!
When I pray, I am talking to and expressing my faith in…
- The One who spoke the world into existence. (Genesis 1:1)
- The One who created all things: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:12)
- The One who “upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
- The One who will transform us and who subjects all things to himself: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
- The One who raised Christ from the dead: “That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21)
- The One who comforts, because He Himself is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
- The One who strengthens (Isaiah 40:28-31)
- The One who heals (Matthew 8:16-17)
- The One who saves! “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
So let us pray, my friends.
Let’s pray early in the morning and late into the night. Let’s pray when our hearts are breaking and when everything is alright. Let’s pray when we gather, pray on our own. Let’s write in prayer journals and send prayer letters and have prayer partners. But let’s do it all trusting not in the power of prayer, but rather in THE ONE we are praying to!
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)