This article was originally published in Edition (3) of Prayer Magazine, Summer 2005.

What prayer means to … Paul Wenham

It is undoubtedly God answering prayer that is responsible for who I am today and for turning my life around. I know that my Mum and Dad prayed for me since I was knee high to a grass hopper, and that many others joined their prayers in different ways. I feel sure this prayer stopped me from completely losing the plot, and that it was key in fully turning my heart back to God.

I have talked to Jesus since being really young and grew up just knowing Him there, always more ready to listen than I was, always wanting me more than I wanted Him. At school, my prayer became much more of a casual conversation when I was feeling anxious or particularly spiritual, I was aware that it wasn’t the best but I had other priorities. As the conversation dried up, my life got more hungry for the intimacy that I was missing, and other things took God’s place. This eventually led me to one of my most life changing prayers so far. In a desperate place, lonely, feeling hollow and feeling I’d walked too far away from God to come back, I was faced with a choice of surrendering all or walking away. Simply crying “Yes, I do,” was a prayer that I knew and felt God heard and acted on then and there. Desperate prayers move God in ways that my well considered thought-filled ones seem to miss.

Since then, I’ve found prayer can have immediate effect but also can feel frustratingly slow and effective. Sometimes waiting for that breakthrough with lost friends, sick family and personal struggles, can feel so far from God and His reality. However, the more I talk with and listen to God, the more convinced that there is not one prayer that He hasn’t acted upon. I am utterly convinced of His faithfulness even to my shallow, whispered prayers, and certain that He answers in whispers, shouts, shakes and winds.

I think a big part of prayer is seeking Him afresh every day, renewing my surrender to Him and being reminded of His absolute worthiness of my surrender. I was once told by a wise Irishman that digging a well in prayer every morning, is essential to really walking with God. I believe him. There have been times when I have been sitting on the bedroom floor with God when I am suddenly aware of how incredibly deep and mysterious God is and know that if I dig deeper everyday for the rest of my life, I would still only be scratching.

I know it is possible and that taking time to seek and listen transforms me inside. As I am changed, through prayer, my faith is strengthened to believe the same change for those around me, for the place I work, for my street, for my city, nation and beyond! All those seem so unchangeable except through desperately coming to the Father who can change a sinner like me.

Prayer isn’t for the experts, it’s for the desperate, the broken, the hungry, the weak – it’s definitely for me.

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