Commit to exploring a lifetime of multi-styled prayer, knowing that it is in times of prayer, communication with God, that catalytic changes and events in our life with God are likely to occur.

As one reads through Scripture, there are details that are so commonly present that we miss them. One of those details is the constant association of unusual divine encounters with times of prayer. Here are a few. The first, Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al.  Notice the role that prayer plays in these dramatic events!

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summonthe people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

Another lesson in the dynamics surrounding a life or prayer: Daniel.

1 In the first year of Daryavesh the son of Achashverosh, a Mede by birth who was made king over the kingdom of the Kasdim – 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Dani’el, was reading the Scriptures and thinking about the number of years which ADONAI had told Yirmeyah the prophet would be the period of Yerushalayim’s desolation, seventy years. 3 I turned to Adonai, God, to seek an answer, pleading with him in prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to ADONAI my God and made this confession: “Please, Adonai, great and fearsome God, who keeps his covenant and extends grace to those who love him and observe his mitzvot! 5 We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled and turned away from your mitzvot and rulings. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors and to all the people of the land. . . 21While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gavri’el, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, swooped down on me in full flight at about the time of the evening sacrifice, 22 and explained things to me. He said, “I have come now, Dani’el, to enable you to understand this vision clearly. 23 At the beginning of your prayers, an answer was given; and I have come to say what it is; because you are greatly loved. Therefore look into this answer, and understand the vision.

Then this remarkable occurrence when the eventual father of Yochanan haMatbil, John the Baptist, was in prayer:

8 One time, when Z’kharyah was fulfilling his duties as cohen during his division’s period of service before God, 9 he was chosen by lot (according to the custom among the cohanim) to enter the Temple and burn incense. 10 All the people were outside, praying, at the time of the incense burning, 11 when there appeared to him an angel of ADONAI standing to the right of the incense altar. 12Z’kharyah was startled and terrified at the sight. 13 But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Z’kharyah; because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elisheva will bear you a son, and you are to name him Yochanan.  14 He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many people will rejoice when he is born, 15 for he will be great in the sight of ADONAI.

21 While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened; 22 the Ruach HaKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you.”

And in the earthly life of Yeshua. . .  One of a number of accounts.

28About a week after Yeshua said these things, he took Kefa, Yochanan and Ya`akov with him and went up to the hill country to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed; and his clothing became gleaming white. 30 Suddenly there were two men talking with him — Moshe and Eliyahu! 31 They appeared in glorious splendor and spoke of his exodus, which he was soon to accomplish in Yerushalayim.

And then consider Peter/Shim’on Kefa and Cornelius. Notice what happens to each of them in a time of prayer. (Both are praying during the time of mincha, each likely praying as informed by Jewish liturgy.

1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a Roman army officer in what was called the Italian Regiment. 2 He was a devout man, a “God-fearer,” as was his whole household; he gave generously to help the Jewish poor and prayed regularly to God. 3 One afternoon around three o’clock he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at the angel, terrified. “What is it, sir?” he asked. “Your prayers,” replied the angel, “and your acts of charity have gone up into God’s presence, so that he has you on his mind. 5 Now send some men to Yafo to bring back a man named Shim’on, also called Kefa. 6 He’s staying with Shim’on the leather-tanner, who has a house by the sea.” 7 As the angel that had spoken to him went away, Cornelius called two of his household slaves and one of his military aides, who was a godly man; 8 he explained everything to them and sent them to Yafo. 9 The next day about noon, while they were still on their way and approaching the city, Kefa went up onto the roof of the house to pray. 10 He began to feel hungry and wanted something to eat; but while they were preparing the meal, he fell into a trance 11 in which he saw heaven opened, and something that looked like a large sheet being lowered to the ground by its four corners.12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals, crawling creatures and wild birds. 13 Then a voice came to him, “Get up, Kefa, slaughter and eat!” 14 But Kefa said, “No, sir! Absolutely not! I have never eaten food that was unclean or treif.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time: “Stop treating as unclean what God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and then the sheet was immediately taken back up into heaven. 17 Kefa was still puzzling over the meaning of the vision he had seen, when the men Cornelius had sent, having inquired for Shim’on’s house, stood at the gate.

And there is so much more, such as the Day of Pentecost when the the 120 were gathered in the upper room, and we read,

These all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers. 15 During this period, when the group of believers numbered about 120, Kefa stood up and addressed his fellow-believers. . .  1 The festival of Shavu’ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. 2 Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

All of these accounts are typical of what we find throughout the Bible. It is something of a rule of thumb that dramatic encounters with the supernatural, and empowerment from the Spirit usually come in the atmosphere of prayer. Thinking back to Elijah on Mt Carmel for a moment, his prayer was like a body of water, or perhaps like a lightning rod which, by its very presence made it more likely that the lightning of God’s intervention would strike in the midst of such prayer. So for us, dramatic and catalytic experiences with God are more likely to occur when the atmosphere is right, and that atmosphere is heartfelt prayer. It is in the midst of heartfelt prayer that lightning of God’s intervention is most likely to strike.

Important Note: We also must bear in mind that this is multi-style prayer, not just one way, but many ways. Paul speaks of praying in the Spirit and praying with the mind, the former in a manner which he cannot understand, and the latter, the product of his own understanding. The apostles also prayed as Jews do, liturgical prayer (and yes, I can prove it). And there are a wide variety of prayer modalities. I may teach a seminar on multi-style prayer if the interest is high, and could teach it in your venue, but for now, remember this word from Paul: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

So, if you would be a mature disciple of Yeshua, do this:

Commit to exploring a lifetime of multi-styled prayer, knowing that it is in times of prayer, communication with God, that catalytic changes and events in our life with God are likely to occur.