Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. –Romans 12:2
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. –Deuteronomy 32:3,4
Last week, I mentioned thanking God in advance for deliverance and victory, even before they occur. Why is this so important? In fact, if God knows what is going to happen before it happens, why do we pray at all? Why pray for or against something if everything is pre-planned anyway?
These are excellent questions, and ones I wanted to share a few thoughts on this week. Science has discovered some interesting things about the effect positive and negative thoughts have on the brain. Studies have found that every thought we have releases different types of chemicals in our brain. As a result, negative thoughts tend to slow the brain down and diminish its ability to function, while positive thoughts increase chemicals that help the brain function more optimally (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201108/happy-brain-happy-life). Keeping in mind the One who created our brain and all its chemicals, it is not surprising that God tells us through scripture to renew our minds daily. Prayer provides one way of renewing our minds. When we thank God, praise Him and focus our prayer time on His goodness and faithfulness we are focusing our thoughts on positive things, which benefits us both emotionally and physically. Since (as I’ve discussed before in this blog) our thoughts lead to emotions which lead to behaviors, positive thoughts lead to feelings of peace and joy. Since we know the joy of the Lord is our strength, this then gives us strength to endure whatever challenges we face. In short, praising God in our prayer time helps us plug into Him to get the strength we need to endure by getting our thinking aligned with His.
Secondly, there is something very powerful that seems to occur in the spiritual realm when we give voice to our faith by essentially saying, “God, I can’t yet see what I’m asking for, but by FAITH I know You are bringing it in Your perfect timing, and I choose to thank You for it in advance”. When we read the stories of people being healed by Jesus, they didn’t question whether or not He was capable of healing them. They didn’t say “Maybe the Lord could heal me if He wants to”; they KNEW the Lord could heal them and they approached him boldly to get that healing (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 10:46-52). Something happens spiritually when we speak words of faith. It’s easy to thank God after the fact, and of course we should always do so. It’s a different level of faith, though, to thank Him in advance before we see manifestation of what we’ve asked for. Something about that kind of faith has power behind it. So, prayer focused on praise activates things in the spirit realm we cannot see.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, prayer is the heart of our personal relationship with God. Though I personally believe God made all His plans for you, I and the world before any of it was created, I also believe He knows all of us so well that He knew in advance every choice you or I would make in this life and built His plans around those choices. This is why we needn’t panic if we make a wrong choice; God knew it was coming before we did and He’s already got a plan to make things right. I believe He also created heaven and earth so that it requires the prayers of His people to all work together. Why? Because a system that depends on prayer requires us to remain in relationship with Him. He wants to work His Kingdom plans out together with us, not apart from us. So when people say “prayer changes things”, they’re right! God is saying, “Right now I want you to participate in My Kingdom by talking to Me. Ask Me for what you need, praise Me, declare My power and goodness so that My angels can do what needs to be done to fight on your behalf”. He is an amazing God that enjoys working things out through His relationship with you and I. So when we praise God in our prayer time, it affirms our level of trust and strengthens our relationship with Him.
In short, God created prayer for many reasons, and there is no question it is purposely designed to be an intricate part of our walk through this life with Him. Prayer that voices our faith is a powerful spiritual weapon, and one that has a ripple effect of positive results.