Prayers That Can Change the World

Pray_8434934649_eb2eeda753_nIn the middle of the last century, Frank C. Laubach wrote his little book, Prayer: The Mightiest Force in the World.

In his title, Laubach referred to a spiritual connection the Sovereign God grants to man to be exerted in laboring for the advancement of God’s kingdom here on earth.

The book is a call to believers in vast numbers to enter more fully into the practice of prayer even on a moment-by-moment, basis.

We all know we ought to make prayer a fundamental daily exercise at some time each day. We speak of our “morning watch” or our “daily devotions.” And the Book of the Psalms gives ample support for such habits.

For example, the psalmist writes, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;/ in the morning I lay my requests before you/ and wait in expectation” (Ps 5:3).

And who among us can forget that Jesus lived out his humanity in the realm of prayer. For example, when he had finished his upper room discourse to his 11 disciples, with dark clouds on his horizon and his sacrificial death at hand, “he looked toward heaven and prayed” (Jn 17:1).

But Laubach offers a tremendous extension to this discipline. He saw the world of that time in desperate need for rescue from impending chaos.

So, if just after the Second World War he saw the world in dire peril, what words would he call upon to express the distressing state of the world now? There is the peril from worldwide terrorism on democratic borders, the peril of cyberwars, family disloyalties in domestic life and widespread corruption and scandal at the core of governments.

Yet, he writes with confidence that if enough praying people could be rallied to constant prayer there is divinely-ordained power in prayer to change the course of history for the better. It is a daring assertion but one our Lord would support.

Laubach writes, “There are a hundred chinks of time every day in the busiest lives, and into these chinks they could shoot flash prayers for the builders of the new world.” How about adding this aspect of prayer to our habit of daily devotions?

To those who have the notion that for prayers to be powerful they have to be loud, and highly energized he writes, “Prayer is powerful but it is not the power of a sledgehammer that crushes with one blow. It is the power of sun rays and rain drops which bless, because there are so many of them.”

He goes on, “Instead of a minute a day, we Christians must learn to flash hundreds of instantaneous prayers at people near and far, knowing that many prayers may show no visible results, but that at least some of them will hit their mark.”

His vision for prayer is wide-ranging and in some cases a little unusual. But the book strikes a note that we could all stand to get in phase with. It is that daily devotions, as isolated moments before we address the day, are not enough. We should carry prayer into our daily activities so that at any moment we can beam prayers heavenward concerning needs near and far with the expectation that they will be effectual.

Would the Apostle Paul agree? After acknowledging the unseen forces of evil in his day to the Ephesians he wrote, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

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