“The people God uses, the people God chooses, are ordinary people who pray” (Life Changing Prayers, p. 11).
Seven people like you and me prayed, and their lives and the lives of generations were changed. In Life Changing Prayers, Dr. Michael Youssef examines the prayers of ordinary people – prayers that produced extraordinary results. Youssef examines a prayer for guidance, a prayer of brokenness, a prayer for mercy and justice, a prayer of confession and repentance, a prayer of despair, a prayer of complaint and ultimately of rejoicing, and finally a prayer or song of praise.
Intertwined within the stories of seven ordinary people who choose to believe God for extraordinary answers to their prayers are nuggets of truth about the holiness and majesty of our Creator. The Creator of the universe wants to spend time with you and me … quality time … alone time … holy time.
Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son, Isaac, among his relatives. He prayed to the God of his master, Abraham, and asked that God would show Eliezer the woman He had chosen for Isaac. Eliezer crossed the desert to Nahor and stood by the town’s spring. He prayed a simple prayer – that the woman God showed him would give him a drink from her jar and also draw water for his 10 camels. God orchestrated his meeting with Rebekah. A simple request from an ordinary man for an almost unimaginable sign from God – 10 camels drink a lot of water! This answered prayer formed the God-ordained marriage of Isaac and Rebekah and built upon the foundation of the nation of Israel.
The prayer of Eliezer is an example of a principle that we see demonstrated throughout the Bible: faithful prayer + unconditional obedience = answered prayer (p. 30).
Hannah was barren, and she was brokenhearted. For years, Peninnah, Elkanah’s second wife, ridiculed Hannah and shamed her because she had no children while Peninnah bore Elkanah sons and daughters. So distraught, Hannah stood before the Lord’s house in Shiloh sobbing and praying. She begged God to give her a son, and in her brokenness, she offered the very son she asked for to God. God honors that prayer and blesses her with Samuel. After he was weaned, she took Samuel to Eli, the priest, to serve God. God then blessed her with more children. God blessed Hannah in her brokenness and blessed the nation of Israel with the great judge and prophet, Samuel. He later anointed Saul, the first king, and David, the second king.
Youssef examines the five components of Hannah’s prayer: surrender, sorrow, supplication, song, and sacrifice.
If the Lord answered my prayer and gave me the desire of my heart, would I be willing to give it back to Him? (p. 70)
David wasn’t a great father. His family was a mess. In fact, when David prayed to God in Psalm 28, he was hiding from his son Absalom, and the country was embroiled in civil war. David begged God to hear his cry for mercy and help. He made his request, confident that the Lord would hear. David told God that He was David’s rock, told Him his situation, and rejoiced when he focused upon the strength of God.
Hard work, struggle, suffering, wrestling with God – these difficult experiences are often the prerequisites to victory (p. 85).
Daniel was in exile in Babylon and rose to leadership within King Darius’ kingdom. Daniel read the book of Jeremiah and learned that the desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years. He realized that the 70 years were coming to an end, so he begged God to forgive his sins and the sins of the nation of Israel.
… Daniel sets a pattern for prayer – confession, intercession, and petition – that the apostle James will prescribe centuries later in his New Testament epistle … (p. 108).
God commissioned Jonah to go to the City of Nineveh to tell the people to repent. They were vicious enemies of Israel. Jonah knew how gracious God is, and he did not want to give Nineveh the opportunity to repent. As a result, Jonah took a boat going the opposite way – he chose to run away from the job God had given him. God sent a storm and an escort, a fish prepared just for Jonah. In the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. He knew that God would deliver him, and God did – to the shore outside Nineveh. More importantly, the people of Nineveh repented, and God delayed His perfect judgment.
God is glorified and souls are drawn into His kingdom when we praise God in the midst of tough times (p. 141)
How long are you going to delay judging violence and injustice in the world, Lord? Habakkuk’s cry could be our cry today. God told him to watch as God raised up Babylon to take Israel into exile. God was going to send wicked people to punish Israel. This was God’s answer to Habakkuk’s cry? Sometimes, the answers to our prayers are not what we expected.
Once he had God’s answer, Habakkuk turned his focus from the problems he saw to the splendor of God and prayed a “psalm-like” prayer. Youssef noted that Habakkuk’s prayer included humility before God, adoration of God, and a focus on God’s work (p. 161).
“In wrath remember mercy.” And a prayer for mercy will always move the heart of God (p. 170).
A teenage girl living in poverty in Nazareth believed a promise, a promise so magnificent that her situation grew dim in light of that promise – she would give birth to the Messiah. Unmarried but pregnant in a land where the law said that she could be stoned, Mary trusted God and clung to His promise. Her prayer of praise “glorifies and magnifies the Lord … praises God for His grace … thanks God for His faithfulness” (p. 179).
Glorify God in all circumstances. Magnify His name at all times. That is the essence of the prayer of Mary, the mother of our Savior. That is the key to power in prayer (p. 184).
Almighty God, Creator of the universe, Father, You are holy, righteous, and loving. In Your lovingkindness and mercy, You led us into the prayers of these seven ordinary people to show us Your majesty, power, and patience with us. Thank you for Dr. Youssef’s commitment to you and for his sharing what he has learned about the power of prayer. Bless him, Lord, and use this book to release Your power through Your sons and daughters. Cause Your people to pray, Lord, like never before. Bring revival, Lord. Unleash Your power. We adore and cherish You and wait upon You. We are eager to watch You work again in a mighty way. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher for my honest review and thoughts.
Please tell us how God has displayed His power when you have prayed in the Comments below.