Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18 to 25, 2009. One of the original founders of the annual week of prayer for Christian unity was Reverend Paul Wattson. He wrote, “Prayer is the way by which God accomplishes things; first He makes His servants ask and then by His power He accomplishes their request.”
Isaiah 46:9 and 10 state, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'”
God is not limited to what people do or don't do. God is the prime mover and the first cause. But He has included people in His plans, and He originated the idea of prayer. It is intriguing and inexplicable that the Almighty God, Who has foreknowledge and already knows every scenario, every thought, and every need, would require His people to pray to Him. Yet He does require it, and is poised to perform mighty and miraculous things. Unified Christian prayer is powerful far beyond human comprehension. God's promises to His people many years ago are still applicable today.
“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) People's arrogant and selfish attempts to direct God end in futility, because only God establishes the conditions. When people humbly obey and do what God says to do, God hears, forgives and heals.
The Greek word for pray is significant. It speaks of prayer directed consciously to God, with a definite purpose. This kind of prayer is not supplication, that is, requesting the fulfillment of specific needs, and it is not intercessory prayer, that is, praying for others or on their behalf. It is worshipful, conversational prayer. It is praising prayer, adoring prayer, loving prayer. Arthur W. Pink, (1886-1952) a Christian evangelist and Biblical scholar, said, “Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude -- an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.” This is it exactly; prayer with the constant consciousness of complete dependence upon God.
Jesus prayed this way. Often He would awaken and pray to the Father in the early morning hours. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35) Other times He would stay up all night long talking to the Father. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12).
Jesus gave glory and honor to His Father, constantly yielding Himself to the will of the Father. In conversing with Him, Jesus was organizing His thoughts, preparing to make decisions, and clarifying what His specific directives were for that day. He taught His disciples the manner in which to pray, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Jesus often taught His men the power of prayer. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24)
The Apostle Paul also instructed the Christians in every location where he had taught, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving, pray without ceasing, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Colossians 4:21; Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18)
In November of 1964, Pope Paul VI said, “Prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement.” There is no question but that prayer is powerful, and prayer for Christian unity, although designated as an annual event in 1908, was initiated by the Lord Jesus Christ. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20,21)