How Do We Measure Progress in Prayer?

As a teacher, I know I have successfully conveyed an idea to a child when I see “lights” come on in his eyes. Sean can “measure” how well he is equipping Khmer young soccer coaches as he monitors their ability to effectively run a practice. But, what about this thing called “prayer” which is a huge part of my ministry? How do I know we are effective in reaching heaven?

Is there a way to measure “progress” in prayer?

This question excites me. I realize that yes, there is a way to measure our effectiveness in praying over a region. Some intercessors sense “progress” as a tangible peace that comes over them while they are praying. Others say the Lord has sent them a person of peace, a divine connection during their prayer time, and they knew their “assignment” for that day had been accomplished.

Personally, I begin to feel a sense of freedom, and I know that is a sign that darkness is fleeing.

One of my colleagues shares how a few weeks after he began prayer-walking around his neighborhood, he noticed that the city launched a beautification project along his prayer route. Bringing the presence of God into a region through our prayers always brings change: from darkness to light, from death to life, from bondage to freedom.

Sometimes we don’t get to see the effects immediately, but I want to encourage you to ask God to let you see a glimpse of what he is doing through your prayers.

Measuring and Waiting: A Testimony

Several times in 2015, I asked friends for prayer as several Khmer children and young leaders joined me for worship strikes in two different locations: at Wat Phnom, the Buddhist Temple which is the namesake of our city, and at the tourist area along the base of the Tonle Sap River. Most cases of children being violated or sold in Phnom Penh occur in and around these locations.

In July and again in October of that year, we stormed heaven with our prayers. The children told me there was a release of tangible “freedom,” and the Lord released his joy. We even attracted several street kids, sex workers, and a couple of pimps who were drawn to the peace that they experienced.

But, we kept waiting to see and hear more...

Following a trip to the States last year, our reunion with the Cambodian children and staff at the center we work with was like joy on steroids. Our first night back, I walked the streets of Phnom Penh until nearly midnight with the staff, “cleaning” the area with our prayers and looking for lost children. At that time, one staff member turned to me and said, “You know, ever since we prayed on the riverfront with the children, I never hear of children drowning in that river anymore or being abducted on the river.”

Then, he told me that since our prayers at the Buddhist Temple, the city has given the area a complete face-lift; now there are flower gardens, new walkways, an art center, and fences surrounding the territory, preventing the exploitation of women or children. Darkness has been displaced. “It is beautiful now,” he said.

As I was taking all of this in, I could see the light in the eyes of the young Khmer leader who shared this with me. “I know it is because of our prayers. It is time to do it again.”

It’s time to pray again.


Alice Collier lives and serves in Phnom Penh with her husband and their three children. She helped to birth a school of worship among street children in one of the darkest areas of the city, and is a champion for the children’s prayer movement in Cambodia.