The Power, Presence and Purpose of Prayer

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16, KJV)  (In the Amplified Version…The earnest (heart-felt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available––dynamic in its working.

Prayer Brings His Power

There is no secret to prayer.  Some would have you believe that prayer is complicated.  I believe prayer is simply a conversation between a person and God.  It’s the key to God’s throne room.  The most difficult thing about prayer is having the discipline to carry it out.

This lack of discipline is why the average Christian, I read recently, prays only 4 minutes a day and reads their Bible an average of twice monthly.  Lack of time is the primary excuse, but I have never known anyone not to have time for the things that are really important to them.  If you aren’t praying regularly, what does this say to you, your family, and to others about the importance of prayer in your life?  But most of all, what does it say to God when one of his children won’t take the time to talk with Him.

Consistent prayer is a way of grabbing the hand of God and not letting go.  It’s hard to get lost while holding the hand of someone who knows the way.  (Ex. Little girl crying in the grocery store because she couldn’t find her mom.)  This scene would have never been possible had she been holding her mom’s hand.

Many Christians want to treat prayer like God’s rescue mission program.  No need to pray unless there is a crisis.  Then they expect God to dole out immediately what it is they want without first having a meaningful daily relationship with God.  If no other point sinks in remember that consistent daily prayer is the key to living a consistent Christian life.  If you miss one day of prayer, you’re one day farther away from God.  Prayer keeps us in tune and in close proximity to God.  He will never leave us, but by failing to pray as we ought, we drift away from God.

Prayer keeps the clutter out of our lives.  When my boys were growing up, they didn’t do a very good job of keeping their room clean.  It would become so cluttered you could hardly find a place to move through the debris, but after only a brief talk with the father they would understand the necessity of a clean room.  It works the same in our lives.  Things get cluttered, confused, but a talk with the Father removes the clutter and leaves room for Him to operate in our lives.

It is time we used the weapon God has give us to combat the forces of evil.  There is no more powerful weapon than prayer.  Only as Christians pray will we see God move in the way we desire, and the way He desires.  Because the more we pray, the closer we come to God, the closer we come to God, the more we desire what God wants and our foolish attempts to program and chart our own course fades away.  Then, according to John 15:7, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” When we want the same thing God wants, we can ask and get what we ask for every time.  What a tremendous promise this is!

The Bible says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Eph. 6:18) and “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) To combat spiritual wickedness we must learn to pray in the Spirit and let the Holy Spirit fight for us.  This is a fight we can’t accomplish through the flesh.  In James 4:7, we are told to “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. How do we submit ourselves?  We do it through prayer.

Satan the ruler of darkness and of this world is hard at work influencing the hearts of people.  Some time ago, former Vice President Al Gore praised Ellen deGeneres and her lesbian lover as being courageous and admired them for coming out.  Compromise and political correctness is the order of the day.  Only prayer gives us the power to come against these forces.  Only through prayer can we expect to take America back for God.

Not only does prayer produce power . . . it brings us into the presence of God.

Prayer Brings His Presence

We invite his presence into our lives through praise.  Psalm 100 invites us to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

Private praising and worshipping God is something special, precious and personal between you and God. According to Isa. 43:7 and Rev. 4:11, we were created for His glory and pleasure.” Are we giving God what he created us for?  What did you do today to bring pleasure and glory to God?

Praise creates a habitat for God in our lives.  It opens up our lives to be occupied by God.  Ps. 22:3 says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

If we cease to praise, we cut off the spiritual flow, the conduit through which God flows to man and man flows to God.  We become spiritual deserts.  Our experience with God erodes, and eventually, if not reclaimed, our walk with God is interrupted.

We must learn to develop good prayer habits.  We must learn to discipline ourselves to become diligent seekers of God.  Prayer should be the most enjoyable part of our day—not something we dread; because this is the time we visit our Heavenly Father.  Just being in his presence changes us.  You can’t be with God and not be changed.  Prayer may not always change your circumstances, but earnest prayer will change your attitude toward the circumstances.

I love spending time with my earthly father.  We love to golf, fish, play scrabble, together.  How much more should we enjoy our time with the Heavenly Father.

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you….”  (James 4:8, KJV) Every Christian needs to develop a regular time to visit God if possible.  That way you will be sure not to miss your prayer time.  Again, this is the key to a victorious life.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” (Acts 3:1, KJV)  They had a set time to pray.

As you develop an attitude of praise and worship, you will grow in grace and as a result develop a spirit of prayer.  You will then be able to hear from God for your life, and feel his presence.  When you can feel his presence in your life, this is when the Holy Spirit will begin to use you; when he wants you to pray for someone—He will actually break in on your prayer.  You will be available because you will be in the process of exercising your God given gift.  When you become available to be used by God he will then begin to unfold his purpose in your life.

Prayer Brings Purpose

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Cor. 1:9)

God is faithful.  If we do our part, he will always do his.  One of the exciting things about prayers is we never know where they will lead us or just how God will answer, but we always know that he does answer as he begins to work his purpose in us.

  • “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5, KJV)
  • “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matt. 5:14)
  • “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

As we let our light shine and allow God to use us, we can become intercessors for Him and he can begin to accomplish His work through us.

When we reach this level of prayer with God, we are ready to engage in intercessory prayer. What is it?  It’s standing in the gap or taking the place of another.

When we intercede we must lean heavily on the Holy Spirit.  We must learn to depend on him to direct our prayers.  He is a person.  He lives in you and has been sent by God to help you even as you pray.

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)  He will cause you to have a hunger for his word and a desire to share him with others.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)  The Holy Spirit wants to bring a continuous flow of the life of God through you.  Think about it!  A river can flow through you to others.  It will bring the power of God alive in your life and set people free.  Whatever your full of will come out.  I have never seen anything that wasn’t full overflow.  For the Spirit to flow through you, you must be full and overflowing with the Spirit.

Suddenly you will feel a God kind of love—agape—flowing through us to others.  For when we pray in intercession, we must pray in love.  Because God is love (John 4:8) and love never fails (I Cor. 13:8). And because love never fails He laid down His life for us (John 3:16).

That love that he gives to us if we accept it comes with a responsibility.  We all know and can quote John 3:16 but what about 1 John 3:16?  “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  (1 John 3:16)  Jesus paid an awful price.  He gave his life.  What will we give in return?  I like the Willis Canada song where he says, “I just want to be certain He gets what He paid for.” Is Jesus getting from you what He paid for?

This means that if we really buy into this thing called prayer and worship and interceding for one another and calling ourselves Christians, then we need to set our own interest aside and take on ourselves the needs of others in prayer.  This is a God kind of Love in action.  When this love for others is applied in your life in intercession you will be brought to a place of compassion where the Holy Spirit will use you.

Unless we are willing to intercede, there are those who will never be saved. Someone must stand in the gap or some will never be healed. We must intercede for all nations and all people so that all may hear. We must allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us to the father.  Often, we don’t even know or understand what the Spirit is saying.

  • “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26-27)
  • “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Once in a service at Lee University, we had a well-known preacher make fun of people who groan when they pray.  He groaned into the microphone and laughed and said, “What is that supposed to mean?”  It obviously meant nothing to him, but I know what it meant to me growing up in my home.  It meant:

  • Don’t let one of my children stray and go to hell
  • Build a hedge of protection around our home
  • Bring all of our relatives and friends to a saving knowledge of Christ
  • Bless our pastor and church members
  • Birth new souls into the Kingdom of God.

When the need is so deep and so expansive, the Spirit takes over and pleads in yearnings that there are no known words to express it.  The Spirit prays for us and makes our hearts cry known to God.

The Spirit will intercede for people to be born into the Kingdom of God.  Intercede for New Christians for proper growth and discipleship.

Interceding for our pastors

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18 to pray in the Spirit and to persevere for the saints.  But in the next verse he says, pray for me, “ …that God will let me know what to say, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.”

Paul is letting us know here that praying for those in ministry is essential.  So that they can boldly spread the gospel and make it clear to those who hear.

We have designed a program we call the Pastor’s Prayer Partners which covers every aspect of a pastors life to free him through prayer to go forth in full power and authority for God.

Pastors are human.  In many ways they’re just like us.  They need our prayers to stand and boldly proclaim the Gospel.  At one time I was very critical of ministers who failed, Now I have to ask, “who forgot to pray?”

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