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Sara Whitten: "What Is God Building through Your Prayers?"

Sara Whitten, Kerrville, TX
Apr 7, 2024


Recently, the Lord showed me something about prayer that I believe is a great encouragement for intercessors and that will also forever change the way I pray. As I was studying prayer in the Bible, I felt prompted to look at the roots of the word pray. There are two main words that immediately came up in Strong's Concordance – one in Hebrew and one in Greek (tsela and proseúxomai). The Hebrew word began unfolding a picture of what prayer does in the spirit, while the Greek word became an instructive image of how to approach prayer.

Prayer Creates

The Hebrew word tsela means "to pray." I love the pictures that the Hebrew language paints with the way it builds words. Tsela is a word of construction. Its roots are Aramaic, and its other uses are "rib" (when God used Adam's rib to construct Eve), "leaves of a door," "side chambers or cells," and "planks" or "boards."

As I read about this word, I was struck by how each usage carries a prophetic picture of the function of prayer.

First, we have the picture of the rib. As we pray, we are undergoing spiritual surgery. We are giving up pieces of ourselves to the Lord and allowing Him to create and construct things within us and through us. Prayer is a piece of our hearts, offered up for the creative construction of the Lord. It is God's power and our surrender that literally creates through prayer.

The other meanings all have to do with the construction of the Temple. The Temple was created by people but fulfilled very specific designs from the Lord. Similarly, when our prayers are aligned with the Lord, we create things in the spirit according to God's design. God never needed and was never confined to a temple. In the same way, God can operate totally independently of our prayers and isn't confined to what we pray for. BUT, just as God moved in the midst of what was built by Solomon, God loves to partner with us to move in the midst of our intercession. (Photo via Picryl)

Tsela is used in 1 Kings to describe the leaves or panels of a door. This picture of prayer as framing out a door immediately reminded me of when Jesus taught about prayer in Luke 11:1–13. He taught them the Lord's prayer and immediately used the illustration of someone persistently knocking down the door of a friend. He promised, "'...Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you'" (vs. 9). Our prayers create doors to Heaven's responses for Earth's situations.

Tsela is also used to describe side chambers or cells of the Temple. Spiritually, it's a beautiful picture of creating space through our prayers for the Lord to inhabit according to His design (not ours). While the definition is not referring to the cells in our body, I felt the Lord highlight the word cell, and remind me how prayer can literally change things at a cellular level in the "Temple" of His Body – the Church – in the form of the miraculous.

The final image of planks or boards reminded me of how our prayers are like heavenly building materials. Just as prayer is sometimes answered by process as opposed to instantaneous change, sometimes our prayers are like planks – pieces of what the Lord is setting into place. When we pray and the entire fullness of what we're praying for doesn't manifest, it can be easy to feel like our prayers are powerless, but in reality each prayer – like a board – is creating Heaven's solution that will ultimately come to completion.

Prayer Exchanges Our Wishes for God's Wishes

As mentioned at the beginning, there is a second word in Greek, proseúxomai, that means "to pray." This word is defined literally as "to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith."

As we come before the Lord in prayer, the mark of success is to leave changed. As God soaks us in His words and His perspective, we leave prayer with new peace, new perspective, or new directives. It is this divine exchange, in the form of encounter, that allows us to partner with God in the creative process that is prayer. (Photo via Unsplash)

Four Things Jesus Taught about Prayer

Regardless of what we see or don't see in our earthly circumstances, we can be encouraged by four things from Jesus in His teachings on prayer (Luke 11:1–13; 18:1–8):

1. Our prayers will be answered. "'So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you'" (Luke 11:9).

2. God will always answer our prayers with good things (even if they aren't in the form we expect). "'Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!'" (Luke 11:11–13).

3. God isn't responsible for unnecessary delay. "And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?" (Luke 18:7).

4. Be persistent. If Jesus stressed the importance of persistence in prayer, we can know that our consistent prayers are doing something. "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1). "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need" (Luke 11:8).

Encounter questions to take to God:

1. God, what ideas of mine are You wanting to trade for Yours?

2. Lord, give me a vision of what You are creating through my prayers.


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Sara Whitten
Arrows of Zion

Sara Whitten is an author, speaker, equipper, and founder of Arrows of Zion Ministry. She and her husband are youth pastors at Impact Christian Fellowship in Kerrville, Texas. Sara is a prophetic writer that is featured on Charisma, The Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, and more. She hosts "Hear God Every Day," a podcast with tools to help amplify the voice of God amidst the noise of everyday life. She participates in developing resources and Bible-based trainings for areas least reached by the Gospel. Sara also facilitates trainings for professionals wanting to use their business or marketplace skills for the Kingdom.


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