How prayer leads to knowing God and increased faith

By Michael Risley

I once travelled to Mexico to help build a church. As we drove up to the building site, it started to rain. We didn’t want our building materials damaged, and as we struggled to get them all under a roof, one of the older missionaries suggested we stop to pray. So we gathered together and asked God to stop the rain.

Guess what? The rain stopped immediately.

We thanked the Lord and hurried to get the building materials moved. As soon as all the materials were under a roof, someone shouted, “We’re done!” And then came the pouring rain!

In that moment, I thought to myself, “God is real and He hears my prayers.”

This experience opened my eyes to the reality and power of prayer. Since that time, God has answered my prayers in many different ways. However, one thing has always been true:

Through prayer, I can actively and markedly demonstrate my faith in God.

As Hebrews 11:6 says,

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Do you want to demonstrate your faith and experience a closer connection to Christ through prayer?

Here are two important principles I’ve learned:

1. The supremacy of Jesus Christ should be the focus.

When I pray for someone, I pray for the immediate need (health, financial, relationships) but then, more importantly, I pray that these tough circumstances would lead them to a closer relationship with Jesus (James 4:7-10).

Bottom line: The greatest thing that you can do for another person is to pray for them to know Jesus Christ and to grow stronger in Him. Truly, there is nothing worth pursuing outside of a relationship with Jesus. The Scripture says it this way,

Everything is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8 TLB).

2. Spontaneous prayer increases faith

When you are devoted to prayer and spiritually alert (Colossians 4:2), you’ll be ready to pray in the moment when the opportunity comes. And often the opportunity is when someone mentions a struggle. That’s when I will say, “May I pray for you about that?” Almost always they will say, “Yes.”

Then, I pray a brief prayer. Often people will feel a little awkward about me praying for them, so I keep the prayer to one or two sentences. My rule of thumb for out loud, public praying is the 5 B’s:

Be Brief, Baby, Be Brief!

You’ll find that this discipline of praying in the moment, out loud (and brief!) will be one of the best ways to draw others to prayer and greater faith in Jesus Christ.

A great prayer warrior, S.D. Gordon, said,

“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time to pray.”

And I love how Billy Graham defined prayer as “our greatest weapon.”

What’s holding you back from a powerful prayer life? What steps can you take today to draw near to God in faith?

He’s ready and waiting.