The Power of Prayer

You have the power to change your life—to talk to the God of the universe about your deepest fears, struggles and pain. Bible teacher, Anne Graham Lotz, shares how you can find the peace of God even in troubled times.

In the midst of the contentious United States presidential race, Anne Graham Lotz—daughter of evangelist Billy Graham—joined her brother Franklin Graham in Washington, D.C. for the Prayer March 2020. As the siblings stood before the U.S. Capitol, Anne raised her hands and prayed for a troubled nation. It was a call for all people to repent and humble themselves before God; and for God to forgive them of their sins and heal their land. “You have poured out Your blessing on us, but God we have not been faithful to You,” Lotz prayed. “We have turned away from Your commands. … We confess before You our unfaithfulness.”

That cool fall day on the mall, with thousands present and more than 3.8 million people watching from 57 countries, Anne delivered a mighty prayer. Her slight frame and reserved tone were resolute, testifying to the spiritual strength of a mature warrior for Christ, underscoring why she is often regarded as one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. Yet, by her own admission, prayer is one of Anne’s greatest challenges of her spiritual life.

A powerful prayer life is not born from eloquent words or perfect concentration. “The prerequisites for a powerful prayer life,” Lotz says, “are humility, dependence and weakness.” These things Lotz has experienced firsthand: She suffered the tragic death of her husband whom she tried to save after he drowned in their home swimming pool; she experienced a serious bout with cancer and endured a home invasion.

Even in the midst of hardships, she proclaims God’s sovereignty, His supreme power and authority, and knows He has a perfect plan for her life. “He’s in control and this [trial] has not caught Him by surprise. Just the knowledge that He sits on the throne. He’s in charge of everything that takes place in my life and in the universe. I trust Him to do the right thing, to be allowing the right thing,” Lotz says. “The Bible says that everything that happens to a child of God, and [when] we’re in His will, that they all work together for good,” Lotz reminds.

The peace we desire, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), comes only through an ongoing closeness with God. This is not merely a feeling, rather a belief in His promises. Lotz writes, “Through the ups and downs, the tears and joy, the grief and comfort, I have experienced the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit.” Just like any other relationship, a relationship with God requires communication and He invites us to draw near to Him through prayer. “Without prayer, my relationship with God would be very small. Prayer is to our spiritual lives what breathing is to our physical lives. You can’t live without it,” Lotz says.

While most Christians might acknowledge that prayer is critical to a relationship with God, Lotz confesses it can be a battle to commit to it. Satan doesn’t want us to pray and sometimes our own pride gets in the way. “I think one primary reason it’s a struggle [to pray] is that the Bible teaches there is an enemy of our souls. He attacks God’s children in myriad ways. One of those is to keep us distracted, so we don’t prioritize connection with God,” Lotz says.

She believes we often “resist prayer because there’s something in human nature that is so prideful. We don’t want to be totally dependent on God. It’s very hard to just abandon ourselves to the will of God and fully surrender everything.” Absolute surrender is “one of the prerequisites to powerful prayer. We need to let God have His way. We’re not trying to pray and insist God come our way. We pray that we might find what His way is so we might walk with Him and follow Him.” Our pride insists we know what’s best for us and we don’t need God’s wisdom or help. In James 4, Scripture tells us that pride and humility cannot coexist. Instead, James writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. …” (James 4:7–8 ESV)

Time in prayer, talking to the Heavenly Father, is the secret to Lotz’s peace amidst the storms of life. “He’s near and He’s always available; we can—through our relationship with Jesus—come into His presence at any time and tell Him anything. It seems like when we’re going through a hard time, that’s when we call on Him the most, which I think is one reason He lets us go through hard times. He allows us to have sickness and illness and difficulties and disasters because at those times we reach out to Him and He’s there for us and we get to know Him in those times,” Lotz says.

Prayer changes things and prayer changes us. “I always begin my prayer time with Scripture. The Bible is described as the light of truth. And when I read my Bible, He shines the light of truth into my heart, into my life. Jesus is described as the light of the world; the light is coming into the darkness and that brings conviction,” Lotz says. She says conviction feels a lot like coming out of a dark theater in the middle of the day. Your eyes have adjusted to the dark. Then you go out into the light and it’s so bright it’s blinding. It makes you want to run back into the dark theater. In the same way, “people get used to living in the dark, in deception, in sin and in untruth. So, they hide from the light of truth, the light of Jesus, because it makes them uncomfortable. It hurts,”she says.

We go to great extremes to rid ourselves of the feeling of conviction. “But guilt is a friend,” Lotz explains. “It’s like an alarm clock. That conviction leads us to the cross of Jesus Christ where I know He died for that sin in particular. Jesus not only forgives all sin, but He also takes away guilt overall. His blood not only atoned for sin, but He also took on the guilt and punishment that should have been mine. So guilt is a healthy thing for a believer to have.” The Bible describes those whose hearts are calloused and hard as having a “seared conscience. Their hearts are so hard because they have rejected, rejected, rejected Jesus. They’ve refused to confess the sin that hardened their hearts so they can actually sin and not feel guilty about it.”

Prayer isn’t a checklist of our earthly desires to present to God. It’s an opportunity to be in relationship with our Father and to learn what He wants for our lives. “Our good is not necessarily health, wealth, prosperity and happiness. Our good is to be conformed, or changed, into the likeness of Jesus Christ,” Lotz says. With this attitude, we can trust God no matter what, even if we don’t get the result we hoped and prayed for. “When suffering, you can pray certainly for God to relieve you. I think it’s proper to say God, ‘heal me, make me well, I don’t want to hurt anymore.’ But at the same time, if He doesn’t, then the Apostle Paul testified that after he had prayed repeatedly that God remove from him something that he felt impaled by [that he should trust God’s will for his life]. He said God didn’t remove it, but his strength was made sufficient. So he glorified Him. He gloried in and actually almost bragged about his infirmities because that's when he experienced the power of Christ in a fresh way,” Lotz says.

Lotz is emphatic about the power of prayer and shares how her own prayer team of 10 women have been praying for her for over 30 years. “The reason they stay so faithful is because they have not only prayed, but they see answers to prayer every single week in remarkable ways. They know there's a power in prayer; I know there is power in prayer!”

“Prayer changes things,” Lotz says. She encourages God’s children to bring all of their requests to Him. Our prayers do not get lost somewhere in the atmosphere between our lips and God’s ears. God is leaning in close, desirous to hear what we have to say and excited to move on behalf of the prayers of His people.

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