Do you know that there is power in prayer? Across the world and the internet daily, prayer requests are going out to intercessors. The people have so many needs: health, finances, depression, oppression, a troubled child, a broken marriage, loss of a loved one, flooding, terrorism, war, etc... Our great and loving God hears all prayers, even at one time. We don't fully understand why things happen as they do, why God lets things happen. We don't know the big picture, only God does. Everyday though, come the praise reports: The mass that showed up on the x-rays is gone, my child came home, she got a job, etc. Some of these are big and some may appear small. I do guarantee though, that if God is involved, it is a "God-sized" answer. Again, we don't know the full picture, but I know that God does not do things small. Even a response to prayer or hearing that the "hope is in the cross" is "God-sized" because He is speaking. As Pastor Buck would say, "what happened might not seem very big or important, but imagine what it might be like if you weren't praying". Such wisdom in those words. I also like the "where two or more gather in my name..." There IS power in prayer, let's see what the Scriptures say.
Jesus used Peter's drowsiness to warn him about the kinds of temptation he would soon face. The way to overcome temptation is to keep watch and pray. Watching means being aware of the possibilities of temptation, sensitive to the subtleties, and spiritually equipped to fight it. Because temptation strikes when we are most vulnerable, we can't resist it alone. Prayer is essential because God's strength can shore up our defenses and defeat Satan's power.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Imagine never being "anxious" about anything"! It seems like an impossibility - we all have worries on the world, our jobs, in our homes, at school. But Paul's advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray. God's peace is different from the world's peace (see John 14:27). True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Our citizenship in Christ's kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin. Let God's peace guard your heart against anxiety.
Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
Herod's plan undoubtedly was to execute Peter, but the believers were praying for Peter's safety. The earnest prayer of the church significantly affected the outcome of these events. Prayer changes things, so pray often and pray with confidence.
Solomon praised the Lord and prayed for the people. His prayer can be a pattern for our prayers. He had five basic requests: 1) for God's presence; 2) for the desire to do God's will in everything; 3) for help with each day's need; 4) for the desire and ability to obey God's decrees and commands; 5) for the spread of God's kingdom to the entire world. These prayer requests are just as important today. When you pray for your church or family, you can make these same requests to God.
Psalm 4:3 Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.
The godly are those who are faithful and devoted to God. David knew that God would hear him when he called and would answer him. We too can be confident that God listens to our prayers and answers when we call to him. Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of his high standards for holy living. But if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us, and he will listen to us. When you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, remember that as a believer, you have been set apart by God and that he loves you. He hears and answers, although his answers may not be what you expect. Look at your problems in the light of God's power instead of looking at God in the shadow of your problems.
Psalm 5:1-3 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
The secret of a close relationship with God is to pray to him earnestly each morning. In the morning, our minds are more free from problems and then we can commit the whole day to God. Regular communication helps any friendship and is certainly necessary for a strong relationship with God. We need to communicate with him daily. Do you have a regular time to pray and read God's Word?
Psalm 122:6-9 Pray for peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels." For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, "Peace be within you." For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity."
The psalmist was not praying for his own peace and prosperity, but for that of his brothers and friends in Jerusalem. This is intercessory prayer, prayer on behalf of others. Too often we are quick to pray for our own needs an desires, and omit interceding for others. Will you intercede for someone in need today?
Matthew 6:5-6 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Some people, especially the religious leaders, wanted to be seen as "holy," and public prayer was one way to get attention. Jesus saw through their self-righteous acts, however, and taught that the essence of prayer is not public style, but private communication with God. There is a place for public prayer, but to pray only where others will notice you indicates that your real audience is not God.
Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Repeating the same words over and over like a magic incantation is no way to ensure that God will hear your prayer. It's not wrong to come to God many times with the same requests - Jesus encourages persistent prayer. But he condemns the shallow repetition of words that are not offered with a sincere heart. We can never pray too much if our prayers are honest and sincere. Before you start to pray, make sure you mean what you say.
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Have you ever grown tired of praying for something or someone? Paul says we should "devote" ourselves to prayer and be "watchful" in prayer. Our persistence is an expression of our faith that God answers our prayers. Faith shouldn't die if the answers come slowly, for the delay may be God's way of working his will in our lives. When you feel tired of praying, know that God is present, always listening, always answering - maybe not in ways you had hoped, but in ways he knows are best.
Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,"
This is often called the Lord's Prayer because Jesus gave it to the disciples. It can be a pattern for our prayers. We should praise God, pray for his work in the world, pray for our daily needs, and pray for help in our daily struggles.
The phrase "Our Father in heaven" indicates that God is not only majestic and holy, but also personal and loving. The first line of this model prayer is a statement of praise and a commitment to hallow, or honor, God's holy name. We can honor God's name by being careful to use it respectfully. If we use God's name lightly, we aren't remembering God's holiness.
Matthew 6:10 ...your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
The phrase "Your kingdom come" is a reference to God's spiritual reign, not Israel's freedom from Rome. God's kingdom was announced in the covenant with Abraham (8:11; Luke 13:28), is present in Christ's reign in believers' hearts (Luke 17:21), and will be complete when all evil is destroyed and God establishes the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1)
Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread,
When we pray "Give us today our daily bread," we are acknowledging that God is our sustainer and provider. It is a misconception to think that we provide for our needs ourselves. We must trust God daily to provide what he knows we need.
When we pray "Your will be done," we are not resigning ourselves to fate, but praying that God's perfect purpose will be accomplished in this world as well as in the next.
Matthew 6:12-13 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
God doesn't lead us into temptations, but sometimes he allows us to be tested by them. As disciples, we should pray to be delivered from these trying times and for deliverance from satan ("the evil one") and his deceit. All Christians struggle with temptation. Sometimes it is so subtle that we don't even realize what it happening to us. God has promised that he won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinithians 10:13). Ask God to help you recognize temptation and to give you stength to overcome it and choose God's way instead.
Matthew 7:9-11 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake. 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 good gifts to those who ask him!
The child in Jesus' example asked his father for bread and fish - good and necessary items. If the child had asked for a poisonous snake, would the wise father have granted his request? Sometimes God knows we are praying for "snakes" and does not give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers. As we learn to know God better as a loving Father, we learn to ask for what is good for us, and he grants it.
Christ is showing us the heart of God, the Father. God is not selfish, begrudging, or stingy, and we don't have to beg or grovel as we come with our requests. He is a loving Father who understands, cares, and comforts. If humans can be kind, imagine how kind God, the Creator of kindness can be.
Matthew 14:23-24 After he had dismissed them, he went up on the mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Seeking solitude was an important priority for Jesus (see also 14:13). He made room in his busy schedule to be alone with the Father. Spending time with God in prayer nurtures a vital relationship and equips us to meet life's challenges and struggles. Develop the discipline of spending time alone with God - it will help you grow spiritually and become more and more like Christ.
Matthew 18:19-20 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Jesus looked ahead to a new day when he would be present with his followers not in body, but through his Holy Spirit. In the body of believers (the church), the sincere agreement of two people is more powerful than the superficial agreement of thousands, because Christ's Holy Spirit is with them. Two or more believers, filled iwth the Holy Spirit, will pray according to God's will, not their own, thus their requests will be granted.
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
This verse is not a guarantee that we can get anything we want simply by asking Jesus and believing. God does not grant requests that would hurt us or others or that would violate his own nature or will. Jesus' statement is not a blank check. To be fulfilled, our requests must be in harmony with the principles of God's kingdom. The stronger our belief, the more likely our prayers will be in God's will, and then God will be happy to grant them.
Mark 9:29 He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."
The disciples would often face difficult situations that could be resolved only through prayer. Prayer is the key that unlocks faith in our lives. Effective prayer needs both an attitude - complete dependence - and an action - asking. Prayer demonstrates our reliance on God as we humbly invite him to fill us with faith and power. There is no substitue for prayer, especially in circumstances that seem impossible.
Mark 11:22-25 "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God's kingdom. It would seem impossible to move a mountain into the sea, so Jesus used that picture to say the God can do anything. God will answer your prayers, but not as a result of your positive mental attitude. Other conditions must be met: 1) you must be a believer; 2) you must not hold a grudge against another person; 3) you must not pray with selfish motives; 4) your request must be for the good of God's kingdom. To pray effectively, you need faith in God, not faith in the object of your request. If you only focus only on your request, you will be left with nothing if your request if refused.
Jesus, our example for prayer, prayed, "Everything is possible for you... Yet not what I will but what you will" (13:36). Our prayers are motivated by our own interests and desires. We like to hear that we can have anything. But Jesus prayed with God's interests in mind. When we pray, we should express our desires, but want his will above ours. Check yourself to see if your prayers focus on your interests or God's.
Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John."
Zechariah, while burning incense on the altar, was also praying, perhaps for a son or for the coming of the messiah. In either case, his prayer was answeed. He would soon have a son, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. God answers prayer in his own way and in his own time. He worked in an "impossible" situation - Zechariah's wife was barren - to bring about the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. If we want to have our prayers answered, we must be open to what God can do in impossible situations. And we must wait for God to work in his way, in his time.
Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
The Gospel writers note that before every important event in Jesus' life, he took time to go off by himself and pray. This time Jesus was preparing to choose his inner circle, the 12 disciples (apostles). Make sure that all your important decisions are grounded in prayer.
James 5:14-15 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James is refering to someone who is incapacitated physically. In Scripture, oil was both a medicine and a symbol of the Spirit of God. Thus oil can represent both the medical and the spiritual spheres of life. Christians should not separate the physical and the spiritual - Jesus Christ is Lord over both the body and the spirit.
People in the church are not alone. Members of Christ's body should be able to count on others for support and prayer, especially when they are sick or suffering. The elders should be on call to respond to the illness of any member, and the church should stay alert to pray for the needs of all it's members.
"The prayer offered in faith" does not refer to the faith of the sick person, but to the faith of the people praying. God heals, faith doesn't, and all prayers are subject to God's will . But our prayers are part of God's healing process. That is why God often waits for our prayers of faith before intervening to heal a person.
Luke 10:2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Jesus was sending 36 teams of two to reach the multitudes. These teams were not to try to do the job without help; rather, they were to ask God for more workers. Some people, as soon as they understand the gospel, want to go to work immediately contacting unsaved people. This story suggests a different approach: Begin by mobilizing people to pray. And before praying for unsaved people, pray that other concerned disciples will join you in reaching out to them.
In Christian service, there is no unemployment. God has work enough for everyone. Don't just sit back and watch others work - look for ways to help with the harvest.
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
To persist in prayer and not give up does not mean endless repetition or painfully long prayer sessions. Always praying means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for him day by day, believing he will answer. When we live by faith, we are not to give up. God may delay answering, but his delays always have good reasons. As we persist in prayer we grown in character, faith and hope.
John 17:20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message."
Jesus prayed for all who would follow him, including you and others you know. He prayed for unity (17:11), protection from the evil one (17:15), and sanctity (holiness)(17:17). Knowing that Jesus prayed for us should give us confidence as we work for his kingdom.
Acts 24-30 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: " Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word and with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
Notice how the believers prayed. First they praised God; then they told God their specific problems and asked for his help. They didn't ask God to remove the problem, but to help them deal with it. This is a model for us to follow when we pray. We may ask God to remove our problems, and he may choose to do so. But we must recognize that often he will leave the problem in place and give us the strength and courage to deal with it.
Acts 12:13-15 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" "You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel."
The prayers of the group of believers were answered, even as they prayed. But when the answer arrived at the door, they didn't believe it. We should be people of faith who believe that God answers the prayers of those who seek his will. When you pray, believe you'll get an answer. And when the answer comes, don't be surprised, be thankful.
Colossians 1:9-14 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Sometimes we wonder how to pray for missionaries and other leaders we have never met. Paul had never met the Colossians, but he faithfully prayed for them. His prayers teach us how to pray for others, whether we know them or not. We can request that they 1) understand God's will, 2) gain spiritual wisdom, 3) please and honor God, 4) bear good fruit, 5) grow in the knowledge of God, 6) be filled with God's strength, 7) have great endurance and patience, 8) stay full of Christ's joy, and 9) give thanks always. All believers have these same basic needs. When you don't know how to pray for someone, use Paul's prayer pattern for the Colossians.