Prayer’s Power

Anita Mellott homeschools and blogs “Words of Encouragement and Hope” at From the Mango Tree. Her book of devotionals for homeschooling parents will be released by Judson Press in late summer 2011.

The document’s white space mocked me as my fingers hovered over the keyboard. For the second day I’d sat at the computer for several hours. Nothing flowed.

“Lord, shouldn’t I work through this passage of Scripture?” I only had three days to write the remaining twenty-two devotionals for my book before editing it and sending it to my critique group. “Would I make the deadline? Would the publisher grant an extension? Was this the book God had led me to write?” Heaviness took over.

“Sounds like warfare. I’m on it,” promised a writing friend when I explained what was going on.

I sank to my knees that afternoon in desperation and surrender. “Lord, You’ve brought me this far. Help me trust You to see this project to the end.”

The next morning, a freedom took hold of me as never before as my fingers danced over the keyboard. I made my deadline with a day to spare.

When I tackled laying out the devotions over the year, I had no clear idea where to place each devotional. My new laptop restarted on its own every few minutes. Then it slowed down so much I could have cooked and served my family a gourmet meal. On the third morning I clued in. I prayed over my computer, manuscript, and the index cards that covered my dining table. A gentle peace took hold of me. A few days later the book was laid out.

I’m not one to see spirits behind every event or to blame the evil one when things go wrong, but I couldn’t get away from the timing of the two episodes. Spiritual warfare is real for Christian writers. Paul, in Ephesians 6, lists an array of weapons of warfare. Prayer was my offensive weapon. In the first episode, the breakthrough was miraculous and exhilarating. The second answer, while no less miraculous, only came through persisting.

Paul underscores the importance of prayer by mentioning the words “pray” three times, “praying,” and “prayers” once each in verses 18-20. He encourages us to pray in the Spirit (verse 18). I had no idea how to pray against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (vs. 12), but God’s Spirit within did, interceding on my behalf (Romans 8:25-27).

In verse 18, Paul urges us to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” We don’t know when the enemy will strike, but constant prayer keeps us alert. Constant prayer during the attack empowers us to get through. The breakthrough, whether immediate or over time, always comes when we’re on our knees.

Paul’s request for prayer in verses 19-20 resonates. It’s a prayer for writers of faith: “Pray also for me, that…words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”