“When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased’ ” (Luke 3:21–22). Standing with John the Baptist, waist-deep in the Jordan River, the Lord Jesus prayed. When He prayed, things changed. Heaven opened! The Spirit descended! God spoke! His prayers were powerful! Indeed, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, NKJV).
Prayer changes things!
Once, “they brought to (Jesus) a deaf man who had difficulty speaking and begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. So he took him away from the crowd in private. After putting his fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’). Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly” (Mark 7:32–35). I’m stumped. I don’t know why Jesus needed to spit. But I do know that as Jesus “looked up to heaven” he wasn’t star-gazing or checking the cloud cover... He was praying. He was talking to His Father in Heaven. As the Savior prayed, the deaf-mute’s “ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly.” Prayer changes things!
There’s no better example of the power of prayer than the story of Lazarus. “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. ‘Remove the stone,’ Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, ‘Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.’ After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go’ ” (John 11:38–44).
In the graveyard, Jesus looked heavenward and thanked His Father for the gift of prayer. “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me...” As Jesus prayed aloud, He explained that He was teaching by example. He was praying to illustrate the power and possibilities of faithful praying. At the risk of repeating myself... Prayer changes things. Lazarus, a dead man, was made alive.
Another time, Jesus “took along Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white” (Luke 9:28–31). Prayer doesn’t always change God, but it always changes the one who prays. Interestingly, on the Mount of Transfiguration, as He communed with His Father, Jesus was changed. He was transformed.
Do you suppose it’s really true? “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.