Prayer has been on my mind lately. It probably should be on my mind more often. I especially know I should practice it more often than I have been.
Maybe you’re like me, and you need to be challenged to enhance your prayer life. The key is doing it more than talking about it. Prayer journals are great tools, as well as designated prayer spots or “prayer closets.”
Praying can be the most humbling yet refreshing activity you can do, and when it’s a regular part of your life, you will find that it’s the most effective form of communication you could do—definitely more than social media.
With this in mind, here are six inspiring prayer moments in the Bible.
1. Hannah prays for a son (1 Sam. 1:11)
Hannah’s story pulls on you emotionally. Not able to have children was enough to depress her, but she also had to put up with “her rival,” another wife who “would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord kept Hannah from conceiving” (1:6).
Hannah offers an emotional prayer to the Lord, pleading for a son and offering to “give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1:11). Her son becomes Samuel who becomes a great leader of Israel, anointing David as king.
What is fascinating about Hannah’s prayer is, after Eli the priest discovers her in the temple praying and eventually blesses Hannah, the prayer time ends with Hannah encouraged, and she “no longer looked despondent” (1:18).
Prayer may not always immediately offer such encouragement, but it can steer us from focusing on our concerns to focusing on God, Who is faithful, loving and desires to have a relationship with us.
2. Jonah inside a great fish (Jonah 2)
Jonah is a rather perplexing character. He thinks he can literally run away from God and ends up praying to God “from the belly of the fish” (Jonah 2:1).
You should study Jonah’s prayer. I get how he mentions watery depths and seaweed, even comparing his conditions to Sheol. It becomes more fascinating when he offers more optimistic language, including having “a voice of thanksgiving.”
So it’s possible to conclude that observing prayer, even from possibly one of the worst places, offers greater perspective and encouragement.
3. Peter in prison (Acts 12:5)
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5)
This is a fun story. Peter’s conditions are rough and discouraging. He’s chained between two soldiers with others outside guarding the prison. An angel appears and wakes up Peter, telling him to get dressed.
It feels like a dream to Peter, which is understandable, but eventually the angel leads Peter to the church prayer meeting.
Peter knocks on the door. A girl named Rhoda goes to the door but doesn’t open it. Instead, after she finds out that Peter’s at the door she interrupts the prayer meeting to tell them Peter’s at the door.
They don’t believe Rhoda, but they go back and forth while Peter kept on knocking.
Praying for others can sometimes lead to unbelievable encounters. I shared last week about meeting Lisa. She prays boldly and instantly for others. It was a great encouragement for me that I should involve prayer just like she does.
4. Elijah against the prophet of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-37)
Elijah has a great story of boldly and completely serving God. There are many great instances of prayer in Elijah’s life, but the major showdown he had against the prophets of Baal is a fun one to study.
The challenge on Mount Carmel consisted of the false prophets against Elijah in a worship battle. The prophets went first, praying to Baal to bring fire on their altar. It didn’t happen.
On Elijah’s turn, he started by dumping a bunch of water on the wooden altar, making it even more of a challenge to make a fire. Then Elijah prayed:
“Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God and that you have turned their hearts back” (I Kings 18:37).
The Lord answered with a fire, “consuming the burnt offering, the wood, the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench” (18:38).
Yes, God can answer that quick and boldly. It does not always happen like that, but it can. I prayed for a coworker this week to find his computer, after he searched for a significant amount of time. Before I finished the prayer, the computer was found.
It’s not a guarantee, but God has and can answer your prayer quickly and powerfully.
5. Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (2 Kings 20:3)
King Hezekiah has many great instances of prayer told in 2 Kings. One I find most fascinating is when Hezekiah was terminally ill. He was told to “Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover” (2 Kings 20:1).
Hezekiah responded to the news by praying, “Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what pleases you” (20:3).
I love God’s response. He added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life (20:6). So specific! And since numbers are important part of how God works, it makes me wonder why Hezekiah got 15 more years. I don’t know that answer.
God may even provide a surprising response to your prayers.
6. Jesus in the garden (Luke 22:42)
There can also be times when God does not answer exactly what you request.
Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is a great example of Jesus demonstrating His humanity. He expressed how He would rather not face this death on the cross that He was about to experience.
This also demonstrates how Jesus is the Son of God, and He knew it was the will of the Father for him to die to become the Savior of the World.
There’s so much to prayer, how it works and has a part in what God does and will do. It also brings comfort and confidence to us, even before there may be an answer. That’s where faith comes into play.
But more than analyze prayer, do it. Pray always and in every circumstance. Have a consistent attitude of prayer, and when possible, voice a prayer with someone who may need it.
And if you want me to pray for you, let me know!