When she heard of a pub planned for a lot across the street from her church, a woman prayed most fervently that this would not happen. When workers arrived to start the project, others in the congregation gave up praying, but she persisted, believing that God didn’t want this pub in that place.
One day the workers didn’t show up. For reasons unknown, they never came back. The lot remains vacant and the church rejoices in the power of prayer.
The early church discovered this power also. While Jesus was with them, He told the disciples they would have power in prayer. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven . . . if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:18–20)
After Jesus ascended to heaven, they were united in one place, “devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). When the day of Pentecost arrived . . .
Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1–4)
As a result of their prayer, God gave them Holy Spirit power to share the Gospel in various languages and the crowds gathered for this Jewish celebration heard the Good News about Jesus in their own speech.
Not long after that, Peter and John were going into the temple when they encountered a lame man begging for alms. They said to the man, “Look at us.” He fixed his attention, expecting to receive something . . .
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Acts 3:3–8)
On another occasion, Peter was put in jail for preaching the Gospel, but the doors opened and he walked out. Thinking it was a dream, he shook himself and declared, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” When he realized this, he went to the house where many were gathered together in prayer. Even as they asked for Peter’s release, they were astonished at the answer . . .
And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” (Acts 12:11–15)
Paul also knew the power of prayer, but he also knew that it was not always exciting or glamorous. In reality, powerful praying can be accompanied by increased spiritual battles and a deep sense of weakness. God had told Paul this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Power out there and weakness in here seem to go together. However, Paul responded in a determined way, but also in contentment with this reality. He said . . .
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
I know my weakness, and sometimes know His strength, but as for the contentment or the ability to boast about my weaknesses, I’m not there yet.