When we see the flashing lights of a police car behind us, we pull over to the side of the road and await the officer approaching the vehicle to ask for our licence and registration. We comply because we know that the officer has the authority to do that. The officer cannot do that when they are off duty and driving their own car. They can only stop us because of the authority of the badge which they carry. In a similar manner, we carry a badge of authority in prayer because we belong to Jesus. We have his badge, his authority.
Shortly after we moved to our new house, I was driving home one night in the fog. I was going on what were then unfamiliar country roads in the dark. As such, I was not always aware of exactly where I was. Fortunately, I had put my new address into the map app on my phone so I could listen and follow the directions as to where I needed to turn and in which direction I needed to travel.
It is the same way with prayer. On his own, God could do things faster and more efficiently. Instead, he chooses to work with and through us. As we cooperate in prayer, we see the Lord bring transformation to our situations, and we get to grow in our relationship with the Lord. As we come to the Lord in prayer, he inspires us through the Holy Spirit. The Lord will give us discernment and direction for what we need both to pray and to do. As we respond and pray into that guidance, God moves to answer our prayers, and transformation happens. In effect, we pray his Kingdom purposes into reality.
Their prayers were not “Change this bad situation, Lord,” but “Change us, so that we can be effective in this situation!” How many times do we pray, asking the Lord to make things easy for us, instead of praying for the strength, wisdom and empowerment to go through challenging or difficult circumstances?
There are people in our lives who we know well, and there are some who we would describe as just being an acquaintance. When the apostles were looking to appoint deacons, they did not want people who were just acquainted with the Holy Spirit. They wanted people who knew him well! It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. He is the third person of the trinity. As such, he is not a force or power.