To speak of power in our generation and in our day is to be most relevant to this modern life and generation in which God has cast our days. The nations are described as great powers, a summit meeting of the great powers, or the lesser powers; and power politics is the only politics that the world knows. And we make a tremendous world play for the powers that could generate to help us in the nations of the east, or in Europe, or in Africa. Power is the word that guides modern life, national, social, political, every way.
Now, in the implementation of that display of national power we have all kinds of things in our arsenals. We have jet bombers, and we have hydrogen and atomic bombs, and we have many, many other like things out of the submarines that go through the depths of the sea, and out of our navies deployed over the face of the globe, and out of all of the mighty military strength that America and also our enemies are able to command.
But when we speak of power, we have no power in human hands like that comparable to God’s power bestowed in prayer. I can go through the Bible and speak of the intercession of Joshua that stopped the very sun in its course [Joshua 10:12-13]. That would be beyond what any astronomer could conceive; that would be beyond any power to be seized by human hands; but it was an answer to a prayer. The very sun stopped, the very moon refused to go down over the valley of Aijalon. That’s prayer power.
You haven’t time to speak of Elijah who on his knees begged of God for fire to fall from heaven, consuming the sacrifice and the stones of the altar, and the water in the trench and the very dust of the ground [1 Kings 18:36-38]; then knelt again and asked God for rain to break a drought of three and a half years [1 Kings 18:42-45 ;James 5:17-18].
Nor would you have time to speak of Daniel, who cast into a den of lions [Daniel 6:16]—and by the way, the first Sunday I am back after August, which will be the second Sunday in September, I shall begin the series on the Book of Daniel—Daniel cast into a lair of lions, and God shut their mouths [Daniel 6:21-22]; the power of prayer.
Nor would I have time to speak of the first evangels of the Lord, who when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together [Acts 4:31]. Nor would I have time to speak of Paul and Silas, who at midnight praying and praising God in their dungeon, the whole earth shook and the globe trembled so violently that the prison doors were opened, and the bands and chains off of God’s preachers fell off, all in the mighty intervention of God [Acts 16:25-26].
Nor would I have time to speak of the course of Christian history, which is so largely writ in answered prayer, the saints of God beseeching the intervention of the Father in heaven, the pages and the chapters of Christian history that are nothing other than a recounting of God’s intervention in prayer. Why, just to think of such things as that is to think of a man like George Muller of Bristol, England, who for a generation built the orphans home and fed and clothed and kept thousands and thousands and thousands of orphaned children and never one time said to anybody that he needed anything. He took it to God in prayer. In the course of that whole ministry, he never asked anybody for anything; but he took it to God and asked of God, and for a generation, God fed and clothed those thousands and thousands and thousands of children that went through that orphan’s home in answer to the prayer and intercession of one godly man.
So I wonder where the following question comes
- If God hears our prayers, why doesn’t He always immediately answer us & give us what we want? Children to a parent – Lk. 11:11-12.
2. Is this your attitude toward prayer? (2 Cor. 13:5) If so, you are still immature in your understanding of prayer. This attitude is selfish & self- centered in its expectations of prayer, & it shows you do not yet have a mature faith in God concerning prayer.
3. The place & power of prayer in the Christian’s life.
- THE PLACE OF PRAYER.
A. Prayer Is A Privilege Of Christians – Eph. 1:3; Heb. 4:14-16; cf. 1 Jno. 1:7-9; 2:1.
B. Prayer Is An Expression Of Our Relationship With God – Gal. 4:6; Matt. 7:10-11.Heb. 4:14-16.
1. Father – child relation.
2. Dependency upon God as our Supplier, Protector, Deliverer, etc.
C. We Have Confidence In The Blessing & Privilege Of Prayer – 1 Jno. 5:14-15.
- THE POWER OF PRAYER – Jas. 5:16-18.
A. Prayer Is Powerful Where There Is Faith – Jas. 1:5-8; Mk. 11:20-24.
B. Prayer Is Powerful Where There Is A Righteous Person Praying – Jas. 5:16; 1 Jno. 3:22. – cf. Elijah – 1 Kgs. 18:41-45 (Jas. 5:17-18).
C. Prayer Is Powerful When It Is According To The Will Of God – 1 Jno. 5:14.
1. In harmony with & submitting to God’s word (cf. Jesus in Gethsemane – Matt. 26:39, 42, 44).
a. This does not mean God has predestined all that will occur & we are just acknowledging the point!
b. It means we are humbly submissive to His purposes / overriding will.
2. Jas. 4:3 – Free of covetous requests.
III. THE POSSIBILITIES OF PRAYER – Phil. 4:6-7.
A. In This Life We Will Never Know All The “Whys & Wherefores” Of God’s Workings, Including His Answers To Prayer – Eccl. 3:11; Deut. 29:29.
1. We can be certain God does answer our prayers (Lk. 11:9-10).
2. We can be certain God will always answer us in love (Matt. 7:11).
3. But, if we try to “pin down” the exact time & place God answers each & every prayer we will spend our energy in the wrong place doing the wrong thing!
a. Our focus & strength will not be where it should be – on living a life of trusting faith, obeying gospel & serving others (Rom. 12:1-2).
b. We will become consumed with things we can never resolve…we will begin questioning & blaming God…begin to psychoanalyze God!
c. We will misinterpret as an answer that which is not, & vice versa.
d. Faith will be weakened & can be destroyed!
B. The Possibility Of God Answering “Yes” – cf. Acts 4:28-33.
1. When the answer is yes – keep living by faith!
2. Be thankful – 1 Ths. 5:18.
C. The Possibility Of God Answering “No.” (cf. Jesus – Heb. 5:7; Matt. 26:38-44 — Lk. 23:46)
1. Receive God’s answers with thanks & faith – 2 Cor. 12:7-10.
2. Faith to:
a. See that God knows best – Rom. 8:28.
b. Get stronger – Jas. 1:3-5.
c. Be humble before God – 1 Pet. 5:5-7.
d. Not be anxious – 1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7.
3. Keep praying! – cf. 2 Cor. 12:8; 1 Ths. 5:17.
D. The Possibility Of God Answering “Wait A While Longer” – Eph. 6:18.
1. Be steadfastly (persevere) attentive (watchful).
2. Lk. 18:1-8 – The persistent widow was answered – we will be, too!
1. God hears & answers the prayers of His children.
2. We, as His children, must trust Him & know that His answers are always for our best good.
3. So, we focus on faithfully serving Him – praying always – and submitting to the will of God in all things.