We have the tendency to ask people to pray for us when we are in trouble. While this is not a bad idea, we are nevertheless commanded to personally pray for our own deliverance in times of trouble. The apostle said, “Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13). There is no better person that can articulate our needs and desires to God than ourselves. God will surely answer our entreaty if we are able to fully express our fears, pains and burdens to him. While others can sympathize and utter a prayer for us, not many reach the level where they can actually empathize with us so much so that their prayers can move the heart of God. It is then imperative that we ourselves need to pray.
Prayer is a powerful tool to combat any trouble that will come our way. This is particularly so since we are believers and are well connected with the Lord. In his Psalm, David said, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him” (Psalm 32:6). Believers can call anytime and anywhere. God will answer and will send his deliverance. The only time that prayer will not work is when we are so overwhelmed by sin that God is hidden from us and we cannot find him. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said to those who live in sin, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong” (Isa. 1:15-16).
The reason many do not even bother to pray is that they have committed grave sins against the Lord. They believe that they are beyond restoration. However, if we consider the life of King Manasseh of Judah, there is hope to anyone, regardless of how wicked they have been. Manasseh engaged himself in all kinds of idolatrous activities to the point that he even offered his own son as a burnt offering. Nevertheless, “In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God” (2 Chro. 33:12-13). Because Manasseh himself prayed and presented his situation before the Lord, he was heard and was restored. If someone else had prayed for him, he may not have been forgiven.
While prayer is a power tool, there are those who choose to present their concerns and burdens through murmuring and complaining. They have the illusion that by doing so, God will hear them and bless. The truth of the matter is that God will never entertain murmuring and complaining, as we learn from what happened to Israel on their way to the Promised Land. Because of the murmuring and complaining of the people, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. They all died in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb who did not murmur and complain. However, every time the Israelites prayed to God to lift up their burdens, God answered them, as testified by the Psalmist; “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (Psalm 107:6).
How long should we pray? There is no set rule on the length of prayers. What matters is that it should come from our hearts. Therefore, no one should say that he does not know how to pray. Prayer is communing with God from our hearts. In the case of Nehemiah, he offered a very short prayer when asked by the king to present his request. The setting did not allow him to offer a lengthy prayer because he was standing in front of the king. When the King asked him, “What is it you want? We are told: “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it” (Neh. 2:4-5). While this was a very brief prayer, it should be noted that he also prayed for many days, as mentioned in chapter one of the Book of Nehemiah.
With the growing burdens that beset even believers, let us avail of this powerful tool that God gave us—prayer. Through our personal and fervent prayers, we can move the heart of God and he will answer our petitions. He will bless and restore us, if we will only pray. Hallelujah!