The Power of Prayer
Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.(Isaiah 40:31)
Power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11), but all that belongs to God, we can have for the asking. God holds out His full hands and says:
“Ask, and it will be given to you…..If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”(Matthew 7:7,11)
The poverty and powerlessness of the average Christian find their explanation in the words of the apostle James: “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)
“Why is it,” a Christian may ask, “that I make such poor progress in my Christian life?”
“Neglect of prayer,” God answers, “You do not have because you do not ask.”
“Why is it there is so little fruit in my ministry?” asks many a discouraged minister.
“Neglect of prayer,” God answers again. “You do have because you do not ask.”
“Why is it,” both ministers and laymen are asking, “that there is so little power in my life and service?”
And again God answers: “Neglect of prayer. ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’”
God has provided a life of power for every child of His. He has put His own infinite power at our disposal and has proclaimed over and over in a great variety of ways in His Word, “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:19) Thousands upon thousands have taken God at His Word in this matter; and they have always found it to be true.
The Acts church from its inception faced incredible challenges. Mark’s gospel tells us that when the disciples heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, they did not believe. All of these followers had succumbed to fear and failure and yet this church made up of fearful, doubting believers touched the whole world. The secret of their success is of no great mystery. They were people of prayer. They were praying in the upper room when God sent to them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It would have been easy for them at that time to cease praying for they had been given a incredible gift. Not only was there the personal struggle of doubt and unbelief, but they also were facing opposition from the community, both Jew and Roman. R.A.Torrey says, “There was opposition in those days-most determined, utter, and relentless opposition, that, in comparison, would make any that we might encounter appear like child’s play- but the work went right on.”
Acts 2:42 says, “They continued steadfastly….in prayer.” As you read Acts you will discover that at each point, they turned immediately to prayer. From the prayer in the upper room that led to receiving the Holy Spirit, to the prayer after the lame man was healed and Peter and John beaten, to the selection of deacons so that the apostles might give themselves to prayer and the word; to the council that determined what course of requirements for Gentile believers, and to the sending of missionaries, every move was first brought to the Lord in prayer. This pattern was obviously successful and we the church of today are the evidence that it is so.
Often we may feel we are too busy to take time to pray and perhaps the reason we are so busy is that we are trying to work without the power of prayer smoothing the way or providing instruction. Throughout the history of the church, every spiritual movement from Acts till now has been preceded by prayer and sustained by prayer. When those movements became so busy with the work that they neglected prayer, they became once again lifeless and fruitless.
I’m sure we as Christians believe theoretically in the power of prayer and yet though we spend great amounts of time talking about this power and this need, in reality, we practice it little.
Torrey says, “It was a masterstroke of the Devil to get the church and the ministry to lay aside the mighty weapon of prayer. He does not mind at all if the church expands her organizations and her deftly contrived machinery for the conquest of the world for Christ if she will only give up praying. He laughs softly as he looks at the church of today and says under his breath: ‘You can have your Sunday Schools, your social organizations, your grand choirs, and even your revival efforts, as long as you do not bring the power of God into them by earnest, persistent, and believing prayer. The Devil is not afraid of organizations, he is only afraid of God, and organizations without prayer are organizations without God.’”
The foundation of our personal walk and witness and the foundation of the church’s power and work is that of prayer.
Perhaps the revolution needed in the church and individual Christian lives is that of making prayer our priority. It was in the life of Jesus and it was in the Acts church and both accomplished marvelous works.
If you’re frustrated with your personal spiritual growth, perhaps you might try applying prayer to the obstacles. If life feels overwhelming, and it can, meet the challenges on your knees in prayer. If you wish to be a more effective worker in the kingdom, seek the power of God through prayer. If you’re facing an impossible situation, bring it and yourself to the Lord in prayer, “casting all your care upon Him who cares for you.”
This mighty weapon of prayer gives so much to us. It opens the windows of heaven and we receive the poured out immeasurable blessings of God. Specifically, prayer bring to us knowledge; knowledge of ourselves and our need. Prayer unlocks the wisdom and knowledge of God for everything, both natural and spiritual. Prayer cleanses us from sin and gives us victory over sin. David, after his great fall, found the restorative power of prayer that cleanses and give victory. Prayer governs the tongue, hence, we read that on the Day of Pentecost, the believers spoke as the “Spirit gave utterance.” Prayer brings wisdom. James says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”(James 1:5) Prayer reveals the Word. We ought to pray before we read that God might help us comprehend what we are reading. It is prayer that brings salvation, to us and to those for whom we are praying. Prayer brings revival and restoration to our relationship with God, individually and corporately. Last but not least, prayer strengthens the minister and empowers the church for the work of God.
As we often say, “Let us pray.” Not just to listen to others pray, but to pray ourselves; to seek the presence and power of God; to bring about spiritual change in us, the church and the community.
We have been given the power of the Word of God, the power of the Blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the power Prayer that unlocks and releases these powers in our lives. When we add prayer to the Word, and we pray according to the will of God given to us through the Word, great power is released. When we prayer and receive forgiveness of sin and “boldness through the blood to approach the throne of grace” we know that God has heard our prayers and because the blood has been poured out on us and therefore qualifies us to become the children of God, we receive because we ask. When we pray through the power of the Holy Spirit, He assists us in prayer, often interceding for us in languages, and groaning beyond our own capabilities. What a mighty power God has provided us through the Word, the Blood, the Spirit, and Prayer. There is no power that can stand against this combo.
If you will choose today to begin application of all this, you will be amazed at what you will see God do in you and through you. Were the church to make prayer it’s priority, it would indeed be amazing how God would work through it.
Let us pray!
Dr. John Thompson