There Is Power in Prayer
"It is written," he said to them," 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 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. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
“Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” (John Wesley)
Preacher – Charles Finney
Results: In one year 1,000 of the city’s 10,000 inhabitants came to Christ
Prayer Partner: Finney’s prayer partner was Abel Clary. Finney wrote, “Mr. Clary continued as long as I did and did not leave until after I left. He never appeared in public, but gave himself wholly to prayer”
Evangelist: D.L. Moody (failed shoe salesman – an obscure YMCA worker)
Place London, England
Results: 400 new converts in ten days at one church that he preached in
Prayer Partner: In London, a bedridden girl, Marianne Adlard, had read a clipping about Moody’s ministry in Chicago and prayed that God would send him to her church.
Preacher: Mordecai Ham – Southern Revivalist
Place: Charlotte, N. Carolina
Results: Many people were moved by his preaching including a young farmer’s son named Billy Graham
Prayer Partners: Several businessmen, along with Billy Graham’s father had spent a day at their farm praying that God would touch their city, their state, and their world.
Evangelist: Billy Graham
Place: Los Angeles, CA
Results: An extended evangelical campaign that resulted in a new form of evangelism led by Billy Graham all over the world.
Prayer Partners: Graham had conducted many similar events with much smaller results. He realized that the only difference between L.A. and the other crusades was the time spent in prayer. From that crusade on prayer was part of the essential foundation of any crusade. Billy Graham has reached millions of people for Christ – under-girded with prayer.
Preacher: Rev. David Yonggi Cho
Place Seoul, South Korea - Yoido Full Gospel,
Results: Largest church in the world – 800,000 members counting the satellite churches and growing. They have 200,000 in worship at 7 worship services on Sunday at the main church.
Prayer Partners: Every morning at 4:30 people come to church, and they pray for one or two hours, and all-night prayer meeting on Friday evening. They have a mountain dedicated to prayer with small prayer rooms.
- The first church that I served had a group of women in it that met regularly for prayer. They met for one purpose – they prayed for their church - Edward’s Chapel. We went from 12 active people on Sunday to 100 plus active believers – that were in ministry to one another and to the community. It was not my dynamic preaching (I was such a newbie) that grew that church – it was their prayers for me and the church from a group of extremely dedicated women.
- “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” The church is growing in many parts of the world because believers take seriously the commission to pray for the kingdom of God. We need to be praying for a full kingdom.
- Right before Pentecost and the birth of the Church – the disciples were in an attitude of prayer. They needed guidance in replacing Judas – through prayer and drawing lots they chose Mathias. And then they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Through Acts you will see that before great things happened in the Kingdom the church was in an attitude of prayer.
- Prayer is a process of getting to know God. It is a process of developing a relationship with God. I read a person who compared that relationship that a person has in a marriage the main difference is that God unlike our spouse is perfect (haven’t run into a perfect spouse yet).
- God loves us unconditionally, is absolutely trustworthy, and forgives us for anything and everything we do wrong as long as we ask for forgiveness.
- All we have to do in our relationship with God is communicate – isn’t that really true with any relationship we have.
- Christian marriage counselor and author Gary Smalley wrote that a healthy marriage requires one hour of good communication a day. This ensures the continual development and deepening of our relationship.
- The same is true with God. A deep relationship with Him takes time and effort. It can’t be formed in a fleeting moment here and there. And it can’t be built on emergency call outs. It takes time to develop a healthy relationship.
- Five Guidelines for Having the Right Attitude Toward Prayer:
- Be Spontaneous – Prayer doesn’t have to be tedious or repetitive. If we are truly in a relationship with God we should feel comfortable enough to tell Him everything.
- We need to be honest with Him – telling Him how we feel – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Express what is going on in our hearts and minds.
- In that spontaneity we need to listen as well as speak.
- Tell God what is on your mind and heart, but also listen to Him as He tells us what is on His mind for us.
- Be Specific - Matthew 6:7 (NIV) 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words… It is not the number of words that we say or how eloquent we make our prayers that matter.
- An attorney wrote one line of the Lord’s Prayer this way: We respectfully petition, request, and entreat that due and adequate provisions be made, this day and date first above and inscribed for the satisfying of petitioner’s nutritional requirements and for the organizing of such methods of allocation and distribution as may be deemed necessary and proper to assure the reception… I think you get the drift. He was praying “Give us this day our daily bread.”
- The most effective forms of communication are brief and to the point. Examples:
- Gettysburg Address – 297 words
- The Declaration of Independence – 300 words
- Compare that to the 2700 pages of the Obama health care bill.
John 16:23-24 (NIV)
23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
- Be specific:
Instead of praying…. Pray this…
God Save this Country God touch my next door neighbor so he/she might follow you
God help me do well in school Help me to retain what I studied last night
God bless my pastor Anoint my pastor to preach the Word
God teach people to love others Fill me with Your love so I might love my arrogant work associate
God be with us Teach me Your specific will in this area of my life – like finances
- Ask the Right Way – A lot of times we are asking for wants instead of needs. Jesus tells us that Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt 6:8 NIV)
- Ruth Graham (Billy’s deceased wife) once said this, “God has not always answered my prayers. If He had, I would have married the wrong man - several times.”
- John Maxwell suggests an acronym ASK – ask, seek, and knock – to remind us how to make our requests known to God:
- ASK – When we approach God and ask Him for something it implies that we have a need. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NIV) Questions to review:
- Is my request fair and helpful to everyone?
- Is my request in harmony with the Word of God?
- Will it blend with my spiritual gifts?
- Will it draw me closer to God?
- What is my part in answering this prayer?
- SEEK – When we seek it directs us to do something. Even when we ask God for something – God expects us to be a part of the solution. When Jesus taught His disciple to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread” – He expected that we were going to be part like get a job.
- KNOCK – the Amplified version translates Matt. 7:7-8 this way - aKeep on asking and it will be given you; [b] keep on seeking and you will find; [c]keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 Amplified Bible)
- One of the most frustrating things in prayer is waiting – we want an immediate answer. But Jesus is encouraging us to keep after it.
- The verbs in this passage are a present progressive – happening now and in the future. We need to keep on knocking, keep on asking, and keep on seeking.
- Fourthly – Pray with All Our Attention (heart) – One of the things I have noticed when with Emily or any little one you can be explaining something or reading something and their attention is easily distracted. I believe that God must feel that way with us at times – especially when we get easily distracted. Praying for a moment here or being distracted and never coming back to the time with the Father. Here are a few tools to keep us focused:
- Pray Aloud – It makes it difficult for our minds to wonder. You may feel self conscious but you will soon get over it.
- Pray with a pad – writing down what distracts us. Write down what pops into your mind – maybe it is something we need to be doing or a name of a person. Deal with it later.
- Keep A Prayer Journal – Sometimes what we might think is a distraction is something or someone we need to lift up in prayer. I use the prayer list and have created my own prayer lists – example:
- I pray for the Pastors, churches, and for Young Life – I learned that from a Catholic Priest in one community that I served. He walked every morning and he told me that as he past each church in the Albion community he prayed for the pastor and the ministry of the church.
- Those who are worship leaders:
- Musicians: Kay Coffman, Susan Barrett, Sharon Glasscock
- Worship Leaders
- Song leaders and Choir
- Audio and Video
- Deborah Dorland and Christ’s Kitchen Crew
- Lay Leadership in the Church
- Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leader
- Pray Continually – Talk to God throughout the day. Ongoing dialogue with God.
- How to Pray for the Church: We can transform our church and help it reach its potential through prayer. We can prayerfully change our community. Here are few suggestions:
- Pray Continually – I just said that but that where we must begin. Paul writes: 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV) If we want our Church to reach its potential then we need pray our Church all the time.
- During the day set a particular time that you will pray for the church. One person I know sets his phone to remind him to pray for his church at the beginning of each hour.
- Figure your own plan out, but spend time praying for Faith.
- Pray Strategically – Pray for people and activities in our Church. Pray for me – may the Holy Spirit anoint me and empower me. I had a saint in one church that came early to church on Sunday and during the Sunday School hour she prayed for the Sunday School teachers and also for me.
- Pray Geographically – Amazing that most of you have assigned seating. So on some Saturday nights I walk up and down the aisles and pray for you where you sit. My suggestion would be to pray for different ministries by physically going there – example go stand in the kitchen and pray for the Christ Kitchen crew; go to the Sunday School room back there and pray for the youth and the Sunday School class; go sit outside the Food Pantry and pray.
- Pray For God’s Filling and Pray According to God’s Word.
- Here is what we need to pray for:
- Pray for believers to experience true worship. Pray that those in worship will acknowledge God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit not only with their lips but with their lives. Pray for revival in our church and in the churches in this community and beyond.
- Pray that believers will know, accept and obey the Word of God – pray that God’s Word be preached boldly and that those that hear understand God’s directions for our lives.
- PRAY FOR UNITY IN THE CHUIRCH – Pray for humility and forgiveness so that we may work in unity in reaching others for Christ.
- PRAY FOR SOULS TO BE WON TO CHRIST – May each of us have a burning desire to see pre-Christians come to know the Lord
- PRAY FOR JOY IN the HEARTS AND LIVES OF BELIEVERS – Ask God to bring joy into the lives of all believers.
Prayer is one ministry that Christ instructed the whole local church to do. He wants His house to be called a “house of prayer,” not a house of preaching, singing, or meetings, but a house of prayer.
“It is not enough for the pastor to pray fervently, nor is it sufficient for a leadership team to pray ardently on behalf of the congregation. Until the church own prayer as a world-class weapon in the battle against evil and cherishes prayer as means of intimate and constant communication with God, the turnaround efforts of a body are severely limited, if not altogether doomed to failure.” George Barna
If we want to see the Kingdom of God grow and we should; then we need to be a house of prayer.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.