Prayed For or Preyed On?

Hands held open in prayer.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church. Originally posted May 22, 2023

By Bishop Frank Beard – Christians are always under attack. Our enemy is relentless. The attacks are around the clock, 24/7/365 days a year. No, I’m not paranoid, and no, I don’t believe there is a demon behind every bush. I do know that spiritual warfare is real and that the attacks on Christians and Christian churches have intensified and show no signs of letting up.

Christians and Christian churches are either prayed for or preyed on!

I have heard it said and I believe it, “The devil does not care how much you preach, teach, give, serve, read or cry, but the devil trembles when you pray.”

One of the blessings of the pandemic is that the average prayer time for laity and clergy increased significantly. Prior to Covid, the average layperson prayed 7 minutes per day and the average clergy person prayed 4 minutes per day. During Covid, those numbers for laity and clergy increased to more than 31 minutes per day. There is no data showing why the clergy numbers increased so significantly but I believe its because a lot of the things that hampered our prayer lives went missing. The main point in all of this is simple — more prayer, more power.

We know that prayer is important, and that prayer works, yet it is the most neglected thing we do in the Church. We pray but we don’t “PRAY!” Most of our prayer is perfunctory and is done because we think we should or because the bulletin demands it. Prayer in the early church was desperation based; they knew that they were under attack and that if God did not intervene, they would be gobbled up or defeated by their enemies.

So, why don’t we pray more? Here are five quick reasons:

  • Many people do not believe prayer works and have never experienced the benefits of prayer.
  • Most people have never been taught or instructed how to pray.
  • Many are hindered by sin and find it difficult to pray because of un-forgiveness or guilt.
  • Some believe prayer is for those who are “saints,” or more “spiritual,” and so they neglect developing their own prayer life.
  • Prayer is hard work!

Another powerful lesson we learned during Covid is that prayer can happen anywhere. Okay, we knew that, but we didn’t have much practice outside of the church building. Christians were quick to adapt and mobilize prayers in unique and powerful ways. It wasn’t just an empty promise, “I’ll pray for you,” without any actions or follow through.I’ve heard stories of drive by prayers, prayer walks, internet online prayer meetings and prayer phone-ins for first responders and healthcare workers. Covid reminded us that our environment or our circumstances do not limit prayer. Jonah prayed from the inside of a big fish. Hannah wept at the altar of the Temple. Paul and Silas were in a dark prison dungeon at midnight. Jesus prayed while dying on a cross. Prayer can happen anywhere.

“Successful Prayer” does not need to be WORDY or Lengthy. Here are nine easy steps to increase your prayer life:

  1. Make prayer an appointment.
  2. Start small and then build on the foundation consistently.
  3. Find a QUIET PLACE free from distractions.
  4. Use a MODEL or SYSTEM to help you stay focused.
  5. Keep a prayer list or a prayer journal so you can track answered prayers.
  6. Change your PACE and POSTURE. Prayer can happen anywhere. Do what works best for your personality.
  7. Find a prayer partner to help you stay accountable.
  8. Don’t QUIT! Cultivate your prayer life and you will be amazed at the results.
  9. Ask the Holy Spirit to assist you. The Holy Spirit specializes in spiritual warfare. Let’s increase our prayer practices across the IGRC and put our spiritual enemy on notice that we will defend the communities and churches we are called to serve. Our folks will be prayed for and not preyed on!

God Bless, Bishop Beard
PS – Please join my Facebook prayer group at: