Open Heaven’s. It’s a picture God gives in the Bible to describe what it’s like to live in a region or a season of uncontainable blessings. For the last 19 days, groups of Calvary folk have been prayer-walking the Penn State campus. For those unfamiliar with the term, prayer-walking is best described as “praying onsite with insight.” It is a practical way to take the Apostle Paul up on his challenge to prayer all kinds of prayers in all kinds of places for all kinds of people. (I Timothy 2:1-8).
What happens when we prayer-walk? Among other things, what I find happening is that God changes my heart. When I rub shoulders with people for whom I am praying… When I sit in a courtyard where future scientists study… When I walk past the fields where football players practice… God does something in my heart. He reminds me how much He loves people. He reminds me that He has a redemptive dream for Penn State University. He inspires my hope.
Here is what doesn’t happen. God doesn’t get manipulated. God isn’t somehow forced to respond to our prayers because we are prayer-walking for 21 days. God isn’t waiting for us to cover every inch of campus property in prayer before He gets to work. Prayer isn’t magic. Using the right words — like abracadabra — won’t make prayer more effective. Your position — walking, sitting, standing or kneeling — doesn’t make prayer more effective. It’s not the quantity of prayer that opens the heavens, sometimes one prayer from one person is even more effective than 1000 people praying for 21 days. Prayer is not magic…and God cannot be manipulated.
Prayer is something better than magic. It is conversation with God. It often feels one-way, but if we learn to listen, two-way communication is the norm. It is mysterious, but it matters. It makes a difference. God calls us to pray and prayer matters. But does it matter how we pray?
Yes it does matter how we pray, but it’s less about the mechanics or prayer and more about the heart of the pray-er. For example… Psalm 66:18-19 says,
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.“
In other words, the way I live my life, the way I follow God, the state of my heart will affect the effectiveness of my prayers. Proverbs 21:13 says,
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.“
A compassionate person will be more effective in prayer than a selfish person. John 15:7 says,
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.“
So if I prioritize and prize my relationship with Jesus. If I hang on his words and let them saturate my heart, my prayer life will be more vital and healthy. I Peter 3:7 says,
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. …Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.“
In other words, the state of my relationships will shape the state of my prayers. What all these words from God are saying is that when I pray, God looks at my heart. Here’s the good news, Jesus’ death on the cross has made my heart new and if I confess my sin/failures/short-comings to God, He makes that new heart clean.
So, Calvary family, if you haven’t been on campus yet to pray, go. Don’t miss the chance to say you were a part of what God is doing. But before you go take a few minutes and ask God to take a look at your heart. Make things right with him…then go pray…and see what God does this Sunday!