Maybe you consider Elijah’s prayer for fire from heaven the most powerful prayer. Or when he prayed and it didn’t rain for three and a half years, and then he prayed again and it rained.
The first powerful prayer recorded in Scripture is Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, when he pleaded several times for God not to destroy those cities. He stopped at ten, asking that for the sake of ten righteous people living in those cities God would not execute his judgment. But there were not even ten!
Jacob prayed a powerful prayer the night before he was to meet Esau, returning from his twenty years of exile. “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” was the cry from a heart that desperately needed God’s help. O, that we would hold on to the Lord in prayer and not let go until we have the blessing we are asking for!
Moses, leading the Israelites through the dessert had to recur constantly to prayer; sometimes he would fall flat on his face before God. His most desperate prayer was when the people had made themselves gods of gold. “But now, please forgive their sin — but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex 32: 32).
A humble and desperate prayer was that of Hannah asking God for a son, and offering to give that son back to God. She kept her promise when God gave her Samuel, and then the Lord was gracious to her and gave her three more sons and two daughters. Talk about a powerful prayer! And it didn’t come from a prophet or a king but from the weeping heart of a woman that was ridiculed because she was barren.
We have many of King David’s prayers recorded in the Book of Psalms. Here are some that impress my heart:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (139:23-24)
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults…
May the words of my mouth and the meditation
of my heart be pleasing in your sight (19:12-14)
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings. (Ps 17:8)
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart. (Ps 40:8)
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God… (See Ps 42:1-6)
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (See Ps 61:1-4)
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens. (Ps 68:19)
What do you think of David’s son Solomon’s prayer? What if God said to you, “Ask me for whatever you want me to give you”? What would you ask for? That’s worth pondering! Because he asked for wisdom, God gave him much more: wisdom, riches, and honor.
The extremely tested man, Job, was restored and blessed far above the blessings he had before his great trial. When? How? When he prayed for his friends! Now that is a powerful prayer: to pray for our friends.
I think one of the ingredients in powerful prayers are tears. In thinking of the condition of his people, Jeremiah cries out: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jer 9:1).
Daniel, a man that prayed three times a day turned towards Jerusalem, had to spend the night in a lions’ den because of this practice. But how many get to sleep with lions whose mouths have been shut by angels?
Jesus most powerful and intense prayer was in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was praying about taking on the sins of the world and going to the cross. The intensity made him sweat drops of blood.
Mary and Martha learned that a disappointment can turn into a HIS-appointment. Just like we do many times, they put the “IF” in their speech. When Jesus arrives “late” at their request, and their brother Lazarus is already buried, both of them have the same thing to say, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Our “ifs” amount to nothing when God answers our prayer at “His time” and in “His way”!
The Early Church prayed some powerful prayers. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian Church, while being stoned, paved the way for millions to come with these historic words, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”
We find a powerful prayer by the believers after Peter and John had been threatened not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we have an extraordinary example of his powerful prayers. He prays that the believers be rooted and established in love, that they may grasp the vastness of the love of Christ, and that they may “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (See Eph 3:14-19.)
In a message I heard today the preacher said, “We need less theology and more knee-ology!” That is what got me thinking about prayer and powerful prayers. What would be my most powerful prayer? The same as the disciples asked Jesus: