The Power of Prayer

Archpriest John Vass

July 2, 2021

Humans, be it at least once in our lives, probably pray for something with great intensity. We might pray for extended period of time waiting, hoping, and trusting that God will hear our prayers;

In the Luke’s Gospel, there was a woman with hemorrhage who suffered for a long time.  She saw help from all kinds of doctors to no avail. She was a woman of faith who prayed as well and when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd thinking, “If I just touch his clothes I will be healed.” She understood and had faith that being touched by God in that simple way could give her power and healing of which has exactly happened. Lord Jesus Christ then told her “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” By this time, one of the synagogue leaders, Jairus’s daughter whom he pleaded the Lord to save from dying, has already passed; while she was as well seriously ill, there were many people praying for her; Jairus obviously knew how to prayer. But, their faith could not bring them to understand the power of God. As in scripted in the Gospel, they ridiculed Lord Jesus when he said, “The child is not dead, but sleeping.” So, He asked them to leave, prayed, healed and raised the young girl from the dead.  (Mark 5:28, 34, 39)

In this gospel, we observe two important elements; 1) prayer has to be ‘a prayer of the heart;’ It has to be with faith. We have firmly believed that God has power to do and give what we seek and solicit.  Lord Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” 2) We also need to pray properly.  We look at other example of prayers about the Tax Collector and Pharisee. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The Pharisee, who quite knew to pray properly, was not heard because his prayer was filled with pride whereas the publican’s (tax collector’s) prayer was full of humility. (Matthew 7:7, Luke 18:10-14)

Subsequently, we shall pray properly with humility, from the heart and with faith. We may ask ourselves, and think back to those times whether it was in far distant or quite recently, praying constantly asking for God’s deliverance. When our prayers seemingly go un-heard causing huge distress, we lose faith; we may also give up. But God’s words teach us never to give up. The women of hemorrhage struggled for twelve years but she was delivered from her pain. We shall ask, “How do we strengthen in our prayer? How do we have faith that this woman expressed thinking if I could only touch His cloak?”  We strengthen our prayer in many different ways;

By regularity:- We don’t only pray in our troublesome, but we shall pray every day when things are well and even in hardships as well; Saint Paul himself says, “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15:16)

Fasting: – During fasting season, as such as, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Nativity, the Great lent and the other types of fasting as well, a prayer is analogously of the essence. In Matthew’s    gospel, the man came to Lord Jesus because his son was afflicted with a demon and said to Lord Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. But the disciples couldn’t cast it out so they asked “Why could we not cast it out?” and Lord Christ told Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:15-20)

We can observe here that fasting strengthen prayers. Lord Jesus Himself fasted in the dessert for forty days before He began any ministry.  Fasting help us to focus on our prayer and cast off earthly pleasures and confinements so that we may more fervently.  Matthew 4:1-11)

Good Deeds: – Ultimately our prayer before God is not confined neither to just the time we open our prayer book and stand before Holy Icons; nor just in this Holy Temple. Our prayer is likewise expanded in our interactions with people. How we interact with God words with humility and love likewise should profoundly impact our interactions with each other so that our interactions is are with humility and love as well. All these set out measures and ways is how we strengthen our prayer.

Let us brothers and sisters, remember and never ever doubt the power of prayer, God’s mercy and His love when it is coupled with faith and humility.  When our prayer is heard, we are touched by God’s grace in a profound way. Prayer in itself is also a form of communion because for us to pray with our hearts, we have to open our heart. Just as a man and woman open up themselves to each other for them to actually love each other. So, when we open ourselves up to God, He likewise comes to meet and fill us with His grace and thus, it is not necessarily the power of prayer that moves us but rather it is the grace of God when we run to Him in prayer. Like in the story of Jairus’s daughter and the woman with hemorrhage.

Even when things seem impossible and there is no other outcome, we remember this story because with God all things are possible. We can be delivered from even the most unfeasible circumstances for our prayer will always be heard when we run to God with faith and humility.

Oh Lord hear and save us; Amen!