How does prayer set life in motion?

On the surface, prayer seems like one of the most immobile human activities: Close your eyes, fold your hands, stay still–kneel or bow, maybe–and talk to a God you cannot see. “Let’s pray,” sounds like, “Let’s do nothing and hope for the best,” to the doubting ear.

The rhythms of work at Hillside resist dismissal of prayer as a merely ceremonial activity. As persons whose profession is to make Christ known to all the nations, we make organizational priority to pray. We open each workday with an hour of communal prayer that is largely directed either by a chapter of Scripture, or, on Fridays, world news. We focus our attention on the Bible because we believe that it is the living book through which God moves us to effective and positive action, and on the news because it shows us the areas in the world that at this moment require such action.

In my life I have often wanted to jump right from 1) learning about God and the world, to 2) immediate action, skipping over the necessary intermediate step of prayer. I need to pray not because it is my duty, but because it is my joy. I pray not because I need some thing, but because I do not want to revoke my privilege of conversation with Christ, the God-man to whom all authority in heaven on earth has been given.

I’ve thought often lately of these words from Jesus: “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). This verse, along with the following verse–“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven”–teaches that those who belong to the Lord have the incredible privilege of participating in Christ’s authority over all things. I recommend Paul Billheimer’s bold book¬†Destined for the Throne, which details the way God chooses to work through prayer.

I used to ask, “Why pray?” I keep seeing, though, prayer move greater and greater things. As I see God move everything from small situations to my scoliotic spine, my confidence increases in this Mover. I desire to see great walls of hostility torn down and people set free. Wanting this, I will move my plans and priorities so that the first thing is to ask. My new question is, “God, what do you want to move next, and how can I be a part of it?”